Fake news and misinformation have become a global issue that we can help fight together.
It’s the age of technology, and we are all active online. The internet has been a place of discovery, connecting with friends, customers and building our businesses, an area of education, and staying informed about news and events worldwide. COVID-19 was an unexpected curveball that thrust into our lives. The restrictions on physical contact and connecting face to face rendered many of us lost, isolated and finding ourselves reaching out and trying to connect even more online. After all, we are humans and crave contact with each other. Most of us didn’t realise that there has been an influx of fake news, misinformation and that the tools we use to contact, share and connect online are becoming weapons, targeting us whilst tracking our data.
Social media makes us happy, angry, it has many emotional triggers, and as humans, we like to share. Often sharing is triggered by emotion before we have had the time to think about what we are sharing. False news hijacks our emotional response and uses this reaction to gain milage on sharing and reaching more people.
We come across these adverts and videos that seem like real news broadcasts, but we don’t know that they are “deep faked” or “shallow faked”. These are editing terms for distorting video with rendering software that manipulates facial features and clones voices and mimics expressions of real people. The AI (Artificial Intelligence) is so advanced in some cases that you can’t tell the difference between the real person and the “deep faked” video generated by the AI. The AI gets better and better at learning and mimicking. A “shallow fake” is identified in some cases by glitches or slight imperfections in facial expressions or imperfect voice cloning. These are the more advanced fake news and misinformation techniques. Other more basic methods are cutting information and photoshopping images to look like they are from legit sources. Some information is from old stories that get repurposed to gain a response in a current event. For example, an image of a crowded beach on Christmas last year (before COVID-19 regulations and laws) gets used this year to get a reaction out of people and paint an image of people not wearing masks and breaking protocols currently. This misinformation can cause all sorts of panic and emotional responses, and the news spreads faster and faster with each share.
What to do when faced with possible fake news or misinformation?
When you find yourself feeling emotional about a particular piece of information that has made its way to you, take a minute to pause and cool down and think before you share. Ask yourself a few questions.
Who made it?
What is the source?
Where did it come from?
Why are you sharing this?
When was it published?
A small share can have significant consequences.
Useful resources: https://www.takecarebeforeyoushare.org/
Useful websites for Fact-Checking possible fake news
Here are a few websites you may find useful for checking false news, suspicious articles and information before you consider them as valid information. Think before you share.