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Caution: Fake News!
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Caution: Fake News!

“Don’t trust everything you read on the internet”. We should heed this warning if we don’t want to fall prey to fake news and online scammers! The internet comes with a plethora of advantages. It has made it easier for us to access information at any time and from almost anywhere. Sana Hussein, a 27-year-old Commonwealth Correspondent from Kenya, argues, that despite its benefits the internet is also a breeding ground for fake news and other ills. She believes it is our responsibility to discern and protect ourselves from fake news as we traverse the internet.

Fake news dates back to the mid-1800s when the first daily newspapers were sold on the road by newsboys who had to shout the headlines to get people to impulse buy the papers. Those headlines had to be catchy, and exaggerated titles garnered more sales. The need to win over newspaper audiences led to yellow journalism. These “news” articles were badly researched, marked by sensationalism and guided by self-promotion. In short, yellow journalism was mostly guesswork with big statements supported by very few facts.

In today’s society, fake news thrives on the openness of the internet, as anyone who has access to an internet connection can peddle untrue information. Security is the most intractable issue of open systems and the internet is a prime example of a global open system that is used by billions of people. 

On platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, the “share” button circulates fake news around the web with ease and speed. Lies spread faster than the fact-checkers can discredit them and the vastness and openness of the internet make it difficult to police all the information disseminated there.

Fake news items often work hand in hand with clickbaits. These exaggerated headlines attract the attention of internet users and entice them to click on a link to a particular web page. The clickbait leads the readers to its far more dangerous companion – fake news, which feeds internet users with blatant lies and brings into question the reliability of all internet sources.

It is difficult for individuals to discern what is real from fake on the internet. However, with an increase in media literacy, determining what’s true is still possible. Users should fact-check the information they consume online and educate themselves about how they can spot fake news. It is also worthwhile getting to know which websites are trustworthy sources rather than slavishly consuming whatever your feed and search engine throw up. 

Developing our media literacy skills helps us to identify and discredit fake news. These are vital skills in today’s world because we can’t trust everything we read on the internet.

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Photo Credit: Canva

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About Sana Hussein:  I am a young professional in the legal field always yearning for adventure. My interests include hiking, camping, road trips, meditation and exploring nature. My ambition is to keep growing spiritually, professionally and mentally.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles

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