Due to the proliferation of the growth of the internet, finding credible and trusted information seems like an impossible task. Regardless of the untrue information found on the internet, the internet has proven to have positive impacts on day to day lives of many people. Case in point, online technology has enabled seamless and fast communication. It is imperative to note that the internet is comparable to a library full of books ranging from different disciplines. The explosion of information where a wide range of sources of information can be extracted from the internet, has made evaluation and analysis on the credibility of internet sources a nightmare (Crocker, Hampson and Aall, 2007). At present, information search on the internet is one of the most popular activities, hence, the analysis of the credibility of the information of internet sources is a worthwhile endeavor. Social media platforms, such as Facebook, are one of the most exploited by sinister individuals who eye in spreading information which is fake. The vast information found on the internet makes it difficult for any individual to know which information to trust. According to Gardner and Jewler, (2000), it is evident that the new form information sources which are the web-based sources, do not have prerequisites as compared to the traditional sources of information which are majorly the print media. Any tom dick and harry can post any information on Facebook without the information being scrutinized. Regardless of the high significance of investigating the credibility of informationsources on the internet, a humongous laxity has been depicted by the concerned authorities and researchers in the bid to weed out fake information from the web-based sources. This paper focuses on the issue of credibility of information on a web based platform, particular regarding fake news and Facebook.
As per Murgia and Kuchler, (2017), the issue of fake news and Facebook was amplified during the campaign and the election period the United States of America in 2016. During this time, there was a myriad of theories and concerns on the level of fake information which took center stage and circulated throughout the social media platforms especially Facebook. It was reported that a significant amount of people who came across the fake news believed them to be true. This is because the information was structured in a way that seemed true to the eyes of many people who are not keen on details. The mainstream media in that country did not have the opportunity to give the credible public information since Facebook is accessible and also portable hence the spread of fake news. It was reported that during this trying times, the information from Facebook dubbed as fake news, seemed to favor the current president of the United States, Donald Trump. On the contrary, the fake news seemed to assassinate the character of the other presidential candidate Hilary Clinton. This case study regarding fake news and Facebook in the United States, should raise serious concerns as many people believe information from the internet.
Since the advent of the internet, misleading information has proved to be one of the major concerns. As much as a misleading information can come through as result of an error, most misleading information are eminent as a result of one’s own accord. For instance, when one takes a closer look at Facebook, it is undoubtedly clear that an individual can post information with a certain intention and can target any audience. There are a different type of misleading information on Facebook and are not limited to out of date information, pranks, incomplete information and biased information (Nye, 2005). Fake news on Facebook assume all type of the misleading information. However, the most misused misleading information as fake new on Facebook is the use of out of date information in an attempt to influence a current event.
The people’s will in evaluating credible information can attract a series of assumption. According to Dhia, (2006), one of the assumptions is that individuals are usually motivated to identify and evaluate the credibility of information on the internet. Besides, this assumption reiterate that people engage in the endeavor to find out whether or not information is credible. A wide range of information can be found on the internet such as photographs, videos, audios, text among others (Schneider, Evans, & Carey, 2006). However, textual content is the ones which are mostly used to distribute fake news since most people tend to focus much on textual information than any other type.
Metzger and Flanagin, (2013) relay the available approaches that can be used to identify and determine fake news. One of the approaches is accuracy. This is where a user can check whether a website is free of errors such as spelling mistakes. In most cases, fake news does not go through the normal process of proofreading as compared to credible information. Using the same approach of accuracy, a user can cross-check information found on a site with known credible sites, if by any chance the information corresponds to the credible sites then it is credible. But if there is no other information that corresponds to the one found, then such information can be deemed as fake. The second approach as relayed by Metzger and Flanagin, (2013), is authority. This is where an author of a piece of information can determine the credibility if information. In most cases, credible information is always associated with a certain author. It is important to note that no individual would want to associate oneself with fake news. For this reason, the fake news does not have authors. In the case of a Facebook post, fake news can be sieved from credible news by checking whether there is an author in a piece of information.
Objectivity is another approach that can be utilized to know the credibility of web-based information. Any person has the capability to know the intended purpose of an online publication. Opinions should be differentiated from facts, where opinions are not supposed to influence people's action. As much as some authors usually put out facts in their publications, they ensure that they have references for the facts. As the last approach, currency is one way to checking the credibility of web-based information. Information which is not current is usually not true. The above approaches as suggested by Metzger and Flanagin, (2013), calls for intensive participation from the side of the user which essentially involve visual observation of Facebook profiles and websites to more effort in cross-checking.
The above checklist approach has its limitations as it is time-consuming as the user spend a lot of time in cross checking information for credibility. Moreover, online platforms are responsible in differentiating fake news and credible news for the user. Critical thinking and information literacy are what users need to identify credible news.
As discussed in the beginning, the concept of fake news gained more mileage as a result of the United States presidential elections in 2016 (Lake and Flynn, 2017). When one takes a closer look at the timelines of many Facebook accounts and pages, there are a lot of information whose credibility is questionable. It is seldom to find news that is entertaining on Facebook as most news aim at trying to change people’s opinions. In this regard, Facebook Corporation has altered their news feed segment where credible news will be tagged with credible authors and sites.
There are a couple of characteristics that can be linked to sites containing fake news that are displayed on Facebook. Case in point, credible news will prove its credibility by showing authorship (Schaffner, & Sellers, 2010). When the author is known, it easy for one to look up on an author and decide whether to trust the information. Besides, credible information is that which are free of errors and its where grammar and punctuations are properly utilized. Information which is aimed as misleading is always subjective (Wathen, and Burkell, 2002). This is where information has been given its interpretation to convince a reader. Fake information usually lacks references to authenticate the source of the information. Fake information on Facebook lack publication date, and this makes it hard for a reader to know the currency of the information. As relayed by Price, (2017), Facebook has come to the assistance for many people by providing ways in which fake news can be identified. By checking the Uniform Resource Locator (URL) of sites containing news one can know the credibility of information presented. Fake news tries to imitate Uniform Resource Locator (URL) of credible sources by changing small details which might not seem consequential. As depicted by Facebook, fake news usually has catchy headlines embedded into it in a bid to attract readers (Castillo, Mendoza, and Poblete, 2013).
In conclusion, the internet keeps on growing, and it is currently regarded as the goldmine in regards to extracting information. Due to that, there is an increase and extensive use of web-based sources in the search for information in research, education, entertainment, news among others, and there is dire need to ensure that the authenticity of the information found on the web-based sources is identified. Currently, Facebook is on the radar, where people anticipate that fake news should be eradicated as the United Kingdom general elections draw near. It is significant to note that the ultimate way of identifying credible news is by equipping oneself with skills in critical thinking and information literacy.
Castillo, C., Mendoza, M., & Poblete, B. (2013). Predicting information credibility in time-sensitive social media. Internet Research, 23(5), 560-588. doi:https://dx.doi.org/10.1108/IntR-05-2012-0095
Crocker, C., Hampson, F., & Aall, P. (2007). Leashing the Dogs of War (1st ed., p. 395). Washington, DC: United States Institute of Peace Press.
Dhia, A. (2006). The Information Age and Diplomacy: An Emerging Strategic Vision in World Affairs (1st ed., p. 20). Universal-Publishers.
Gardner, J., & Jewler, A. (2000). Your college experience (1st ed., p. 194). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Pub. Co.
Lake, E., & Flynn, E. (2017). "Fake news" is everywhere, from Donald Trump to your Facebook feed - but what actually is it?. The Sun. Retrieved 3 May 2017, from https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/2188911/fake-news-inquiry-facebook-google- advertising-boycott/
Metzger, M., & Flanagin, A. (2013). Credibility and trust of information in online environments: The use of cognitive heuristics. Journal Of Pragmatics, 59, 210-220. https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2013.07.012
Murgia, M., & Kuchler, H. (2017). Facebook struggles to purge fake news. Ft.com. Retrieved 3 May 2017, from https://www.ft.com/content/0feeafe6-2c01-11e7-9ec8-168383da43b7
Nye, J. (2005). Power in the global information age (1st ed., p. 89). London: Routledge.
Price, R. (2017). Facebook will now teach you how to spot fake news. Business Insider.Retrieved 3 May 2017, from https://www.businessinsider.com/facebook-how-to-spot- fake-news- 2017-4?IR=T
Schaffner, B., & Sellers, P. (2010). Winning with words (1st ed., p. 84). New York: Routledge.
Schneider, G., Evans, J., & Carey, P. (2006). New perspectives on the internet (1st ed., p. 228). Cambridge, Mass.: Course Technology.
Wathen, C. N., & Burkell, J. (2002). Believe it or not: Factors influencing credibility on the web. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 53(2),134-144. Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/231407928?accountid=45049
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