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Falling for fake news is way more common than you might think. A recent Ipsos poll concludes that 90 per cent of Canadians have fallen for fake news, but it doesn’t stop there—it affects people all over the world, like the US and Indonesia.

Futurist, researcher, digital expert and public speaker Jesse Hirsh visited us at The Social to help navigate the world of fake news, one false story at a time. Find her tips below, and check out the video above to see Jesse break down all you need to know about fake news in greater detail.

Where is fake news?

Fake news thrives on social media platforms. As a result of its accessibility, it’s the perfect space for lies to flourish. It also plays a huge role in politics and during election season. Instead of protesting, attending events and chatting with candidates, people are engaging in politics via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – all hotspots for fake news.

Memes

It’s safe to say elections are fought and won online. With Election Day right around the corner, fake news can be especially damaging for candidates. Memes can do some serious damage too, largely because people are under the impression that they are harmless. They have the reputation of being lighthearted and fun, which can veil their intentions and is what makes them so lethal. Jesse explains their strong influence, stating, “They’re innocuous which is why they are so successful, so abundant, and so powerful. We lower our guard to them because they are so common.”

Fake news in Canada

You’d be correct in thinking that Canada is a target for fake news threats from foreign interest groups. This is because, as a country, Canada is extremely connected. It has the highest internet rate in terms of usage and engagement. Additionally, because it’s so multicultural there are a lot of ties to other countries. These countries are then manipulating the diaspora that exists.

The government has made some attempts to protect citizens from this, however Jessie abstains it isn’t enough, largely due to their fear of infringing on freedom of speech. In terms of monitoring elections, the government is working with Facebook to launch ‘The Ad Library in Canada’, which aims to ensure authenticity and transparency are at the core of paid election advertising on Facebook. It means that Facebook will require advertisers to confirm their identities prior to running political and election related ads, but Jesse is not impressed by these efforts, stating, “Facebook doesn’t have the greatest history of being trusted”.

Instead, we should look to Germany, and how as a country they combat disinformation. For example, in Germany a company will be fined if they participate in the sharing of fake news. They also have a fake news filter to assist with this.

Spotting fake news

It’s pretty difficult to outsmart the internet algorithms and inherent surveillance systems that are put in place to track us. However, there are things within our means that we can do in an attempt to protect ourselves and the people in our lives from being the targets of fake news. This includes talking to one another about what we see online. By being vocal and spreading awareness about fake news we ensure we don’t only exist in online silos. Be sure to watch the video below for some important tips on how to spot and avoid fake news.