Fake News is an ever growing problem, having large impacts on the decisions people make and presenting a lucrative financial aspect in its favor. The former prime minister of Palestine, Ismail Haniyeh, has said, “Some people think that the truth can be hidden with a little cover-up and decoration. But as time goes by, what is true is revealed, and what is fake fades away.” Essentially, he is saying that the truth will always eventually prevail over the fake. Haniyeh’s statement is only partially accurate in today’s world because although it is much easier now to reveal the truth, spreading it faster than fake news is more challenging.
There exist many examples of the relatively high viral speed of fake news compared to the truth, which is often more boring or mundane and therefore not as share-worthy. One of these instances is the infamous “Vaccinations cause autism” claim made by many, from liberal democrats to conservative republicans, including the current president of the United States. Despite being disproved by countless studies, high ranking officials continue to propagate this myth, and large swathes of the public believe in it. This claim has had a tremendous impact; due to this, many parents have chosen not to vaccinate their children against potentially harmful diseases, which could be fatal for the children. Another, more recent example of the incredible internet speed of fake news is “Liberty News,” a fake news website based in the San Francisco Bay Area. The website was created by Paris Wade and Ben Goldman, and they generate $10,000 in advertising revenue per month. A shockingly high 95% of this internet traffic comes via Facebook, a social media site notorious for the high amount of fake content being shared. According to one study, most people on Facebook and other social networks don’t click on headlines before sharing them, leading to obviously fake stories going viral, simply because of an exciting headline. Clearly, in the digital age we live in, where everyone has access to great databases of information, the truth is simply a few clicks away. However, the crux of the issue is that many people do not bother to seek this truth, and therefore the false infects us at a rapid pace.
Haniyeh may have been right when he said that the truth will always be revealed, but he most likely did not foresee fake news having such staying power. With copious digital resources at our hands, it is relatively easy to reveal the truth, but considerably more complex to make lies fade away.