A United Kingdom Committee of the House of Commons holds a public hearing, in the United States of America, to grill Facebook, Google, Twitter, and other technology giants, on complacency in spreading Fake News online.
It is Ironic to note that the Pulitzer award for achievements in journalism, literature, as well as musical composition, and Yellow journalism (aka Fake News), have a common progenitor; Joseph Pulitzer.
Many share News piece without verifying them because it is in line with their narrative of the person(s) of the other race, tribe, region or political persuasion. It does not have to make sense. Supporters of the government, for example, did not see anything wrong with the Minister of Women Affairs, Aisha AlHassan, until she spoke for Atiku Abubakar’s Presidential ambition. It didn’t take 24 hours for an allegation of corruption to be fabricated and published of her. The President’s opponents also had a field day telling lies as it was quickly published that she had accused Kaduna State Governor Nasir El Rufai of being behind Boko Haram, as they called on her to “say more”. Facts were not checked, everyone took their narrative home and broadcast it.
2. International funding
Journalism, like other businesses, is in it for the money, and without moral inclination may lose it all. A particular news media may deceive the international community with reports of happenings in its community, just to get some dollars, not minding the authenticity of such and the sponsors are unable to verify because of the belief in government propaganda.
News Media houses are now styled as activist NGOs with the hope that some international organization will find their “work” worth funding. When the need for whatever they brand themselves as addressing is no longer present, they create and keep the illusion so as to keep the fund coming.
Say a Media company which has branded itself as anti-corruption crusaders gained popularity when a corrupt regime was in power. If that regime is sacked for a less corrupt one, such media house will have to find a corrupt official and emphasis his issue. If they can’t find they simply make one up to keep the funds coming.
3, Web advertisement
With the latest advancement of advertising online, website owners are becoming more desperate for every click the website can get, even if it means putting up something with a catchy phrase, coupled with misleading contents, just for the clicks. It’s called click-bait.
Once more people are on their website, the chances of more persons clicking on the Web Ad is more and this owner of the site is paid per click.
As a policy ETN24 is taking out click based web Ads and replacing it with donation button to ensure we are forced to write the right thing.
It is a system of numbers, and such numbers needed could easily be gotten from propaganda and counter propaganda. The need for majority vote is contributing to instability witnessed in Countries where democracy is the system of government.
Bloggers and media houses are known to make a lot of money during election period. Some media companies are even created for this purpose.
In a recent Online Media Publishers meeting, a Publisher is reported to have said an agent of a major political party called to ask how much for AD. He charged 1.5 million, the agent sends in the money but forgot to send in the AD till date. This highlights how much money is thrown around during elections.
5. Hypocritical freedom
There is so much “freedom of speech” chants, even when one is involved in a matter that may be considered treasonous (not Trump’s definition though). While exercising one’s freedom of speech, one conveniently forgets the duties and responsibilities attached to it.
Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as amended by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights says
- Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.
- Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.
- The exercise of the rights provided for in paragraph 2 of this article carries with it special duties and responsibilities. It may, therefore, be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary: (a) For respect of the rights or reputations of others; (b) For the protection of national security or of public order (ordre public), or of public health or morals.
6. Absence of Media Self-Check
Another reason why Fake News is published is that the media has been left without proper scrutiny of reportage. There exist the need for news outlets to act as watchdogs, correcting erroneous reports by either media houses or internet users, then it could be said that the fight against yellow page journalism is half won.
7. Verification process
Of today, if one finds the need to verify the authenticity of an article, the similitude is like one being lost in an island, no food, no cellular network and a dead phone. The establishment of a proper and credible verification guideline will also go a long way in curbing the menace of Fake News.
In the words of Dr Claire Wardle, a research fellow at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy;
“When describing the complexity of information disorder, it is woefully inadequate. Neither the words ‘fake’ nor ‘news’ effectively capture this polluted information ecosystem”.