However Articulated, Some News is Fake

By Frank-Jürgen Richter

February 1, 2023

The influx of fake news is heightened and further strengthened by emerging technologies that empower rogue states and criminals to launch an attack of misinformation in times of increased digitalization.

Although increased adoption of digitalization is seen as a boon—particularly for developing and emerging economies—the adage “with great power comes great responsibility” fits aptly in this scenario.

Smartphone penetration is increasing at a breakneck speed, enabling common people to access knowledge and information about anything around the world. But it is also exposing them to fake news and misinformation that many have difficulty in separating from the truth.

A league of people and nations fuel such misinformation campaigns against nations, businesses and even individuals. Their tactics have become so good that it has now become near-impossible for anyone to not believe them.

The menace of misinformation and fake news has become rampant. How can this menace be controlled and what are the ways in which observers can take a holistic and more nuanced approach towards any information?

Misinformation is Not New

Misinformation and fake news is not a new phenomenon. Even before the internet era arrived, different formats of media were thriving on sensational news – mostly for more sales.

The Weekly World News was on top of that fake chain. Founded in 1979, its journalism bordered between fiction and non-fiction. Some of its eye-grabbing headlines read “I was Bigfoot’s Love Slave,” and “Bat Child Found in Cave”.  Although people understood it was fake, the headlines made it appealing and intriguing for a read.

The fake news in its modern form differs vastly from the past. It is now mainly created and circulated by rogue agents and not newspapers. And even the methods being used have become so advanced that they are easily able to distort the news source and its content, making it impossible to separate the fake from the truth.

Social media has become a critical playground for fake news perpetrators. They are using these open platforms to spread misinformation and malice against celebrities, brands, politicians, prominent business leaders and sometimes even entire communities.

Certain characteristics of social media make it a viable platform for fake news to survive. Social media acts as news aggregators that is source agnostic, publishing one fake story after another, regardless of its quality and reliability. People tend to at most times fall prey to such news that flash in their social media, without taking the time to do fact-checking and consider it as true. Moreover, recommendations of news which are shared by friends and family members are also accepted and believed as true by readers, without verifying its authenticity.

Recent Fake Events

A fake tweet regarding a pizza shop in the US led to a shooting incident on a Sunday of December 2016, filled with families. Fortunately, no one was hurt and the suspect was apprehended on time.

Fake news has become so good in renegading as real, that it has started posing some real dangers. Amid the US elections, fake election stories in Facebook had engagement running into millions. Quite surprisingly, fake news engagement was more than the mainstream news amid the 2016 elections in the US; The most popular of which was the false story that Pope Francis had endorsed Donald Trump for the presidency, receiving almost one million engagements (shares, reactions and comments).

Fake news and misinformation embed and sway the understanding and belief of its readers so much that it becomes incredibly hard for them to trust, even if the truth is revealed to them. Now this poses a societal harm as it makes the people believing misinformation take drastic actions causing harm or pain to others.

War Against Misinformation

Government, businesses and social media influencers are coming to the forefront doing their bit in educating and building awareness among people to develop an understanding in distinguishing the truth from the lie.

Microsoft in their July 2022 article recommends a list of simple ways to identify real vs fake news.

  • First readers should check the source from where the fake news originated and verify its reputation.
  • Ensure to read the entire article rather than just reading the headline and forwarding it to friends and family.
  • Even take the time to click on the hyperlinks inside the article to determine whether the news is genuine.
  • Independent fact-checking websites, like and, can also help one determine the accuracy of an article’s content.

Photo Caption: Misinformation has proven divisive repeatedly. Photo by Nijwam Swargiary on Unsplash.