Thanks to technology, news is in the palm of your hands 24/7. In seconds, you get real-time updates on any event anywhere in the world. Information is at our fingertips. As people become more media-savvy and want to be the first to “break the news”, it’s becoming harder to tell what real news is and what is fake. The year is slowly coming to an end, and we’ve put together a list of Top Fake News Stories of 2022/here’s a look at what didn’t happen in 2022.
What Is Fake News?
Fake news is different from news stories about allegations. Fake news is understood to be news stories that are false, that is, they are entirely lies and are fabricated. They have no verifiable sources, facts or quotes from any spokesperson or authority figure to validate what is being said and shared in the article or social media post. Fake news aims to mislead and deceive the reader.
Top Fakes News Stories of 2022
o The Oscar Slap
Fake: After the 94th Academy Awards where eventual winner Will Smith got on stage and slapped host Chris Rock for a tasteless joke about Smith’s wife, photos went out claiming the slap was staged and that Rock was wearing a pad on his cheek.
Truth: Chris Rock was not wearing a pad. The slap was not staged in any way. Will Smith took offense to the joke about G.I Jane referenced alopecia joke and after sitting down, went on to hurl expletives at Chris Rock, who remained on stage.
o Vaccine booster shots increase likelihood of death
Fake: A video of a doctor from Tennessee, USA, Dr. Richard Urso told lawmakers in the state that individuals who received covid-19 booster shots were more likely to die from the coronavirus.
Truth: The Associated Press reported on this fake news and stated that researchers disputed the vaccine claim with verifiable studies that showed the opposite to be true.
o Venezuelan migrants deported from Martha’s Vineyard
Fake: PolitiFact reported on a fake news incident where, in a recent Instagram post, it was claimed that 50 migrants who had been flown into Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts had been deported. The post on IG was accompanied by a bus that supposedly carried them off the island. This “humanitarian crisis” post was widely shared on Facebook
Truth: A local government or municipality cannot deport any person/s. The truth is alternative plans were made by the state government to provide food and shelter to the migrants on the mainland as the island does not have capacity nor additional resources to adequately accommodate them.
o Russia’s War on Ukraine
Fake: In Russian media, they refer to their invasion on neighbours Ukraine as a “special military operation”. Russia’s tight control of the media and restricting what is disseminated to its people to be more supportive of the war. Further to this, their fake news focuses on negotiation talks, concessions being made, the role and influence of the USA in the conflict and no reporting on casualties.
Truth: What is taking place between Russia and Ukraine is a war with many fatalities. An article in The Conversation highlights how fake and real news is being reported globally, but specifically in Russia and Ukraine.
o Florida bans ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ novel in schools
Fake: The state of Florida banned several popular titles on its “Banned Book List” from schools, the most noticeable on the list being ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ by Lee Harper. Other titles were said to be, “A Wrinkle in Time,” “The Giver,” and “Of Mice and Men.”
Truth: Thousands of people shared the Banned Book List on social media and deliberately misled people into believing this was fact. Florida’s Deputy Press Secretary for the Governor, Jeremy Redfern, clarified this to AP that no such list exists, saying “The state sets guidelines regarding content, and the local school districts are responsible for enforcing them”. Although it had been temporarily removed in the Palm Beach County District, it was returned to the classrooms. What they were not able to control however is the availability of the book in all districts.
The danger in fake news is in how quickly it spreads. Like the famous saying, “A lie can travel around the world and back again while the truth is lacing up its boots.” – Mark Twain
How to Spot Fake News
If there is news, there is bound to be fake news also making the rounds. The burden falls on you as the user to not only spot fake news but take responsibility to not share and spread it further.
- Verify the source. Inspect the web address you’re viewing the article on. A small spelling error may alert you to the truth of the site and what they are reporting.
- Double check with other sources. Read other reports from reputable media outlets. Has anyone been quoted in the article? And whom have they quoted?
- Use a fact-checker site. There are several sites you can use to check if the news story is real. These include Snopes, PolitiFact, Fact Check and BBC Reality Check.
- Check images. Lots of images used in these articles have been doctored, altered, edited, and manipulated in one way or another. Google’s Reverse Image Search tool allows you to check where various images originate from and whether it’s been altered.
- Satire or parody. These types of articles and posts often go over people’s heads and they believe them to be true. Satirical posts are not fake news but are just satire.
- Be informed. The best weapon against misinformation Is information. We need to become digitally savvy and learn what we can about media, news, and information.
The tool that is used to spread fake news also employs the tools we can use to fight fake news. That is, digital literacy. And making sure this reaches as far and wide as the fake news spreads.