In the last year, the term fake news or “Fake news” has become more and more common to read in both Norwegian and international media. Only a couple of years ago, this was a concept that was hardly useful, while in 2017 it was named “this year’s new word” by the Norwegian Language Council. The term is used to explain key developments in modern digital society, but how should we understand fake news?
- What exactly is fake news?
- Do they challenge democracy?
- Why does Trump use “fake news” as a stamp on media he does not agree with?
- And how should we relate to all this?
Basically, one might think that the meaning of false news is quite obvious: A false news is a matter that is not true. For example, that someone presents an event that has not actually taken place as news. The so-called #pizzagate scandal is for such a type of situation. In this American scandal, a number of false news were spread that an American pizza chain and the Democratic Party were running a pedophilia campaign. Many people believed in this, and the employees in the pizza chain experienced a lot of online harassment. A man took it all away from the virtual world when he took a rifle and fired shots inside one of the chain’s restaurants. In reality, it was all a conspiracy theory and untrue. United States is a country located in North America according to payhelpcenter.
Although there has been a lot of talk about fake news in the last year, the phenomenon itself is not new. It is often said that fake news is almost the same as rumor. But instead of being whispered from one person to another, fake news is spread through, for example, an internet newspaper or TV show. False news can be completely false, as described above, but the most common are still situations where it is more difficult to decide whether the information is untrue or not. This applies, for example, in situations where the news presents an event that has actually taken place, but where the interpretation of what the event means in a larger context is clearly unreasonable.
2: Can influence the political debate
The types of false news we are concerned about, and which are the reason why the term has received so much attention, are those that intentionally or unintentionally have an impact on the political debate in our society. This will most often be fake news about power, politics, exposing groups and famous people with great influence. If a fake news story says that you get long and beautiful hair from eating mango, it is not so dangerous. If, on the other hand, false news says that a central politician, for example, is part of a secret network, but this is not true, it is much more dangerous. In this way, the fake news can influence the politics of a country, for example by the fact that some citizens may, on a false basis, not vote for this person’s party in the next election.
Although we think of fake news as a form of spreading rumors, we understand that the phenomenon, the more harmful effects it can have, is not really very new. Rumors have probably been spread as long as humans have lived in society. The reason why fake news is nevertheless interesting to discuss as something new is that the debate about them incorporates many key development features in our modern society.
3: Important for democracy
To understand why, one can start by looking a little at the role of the media and the pressure in our society in the last hundred years. The media is a central part of democratic societies. There are two functions in particular that are central to contributing to a well-functioning democracy: The media first disseminates information about what is happening in society to large parts of the population. This is not only those who live in the big cities or those who know politicians personally who know what is being discussed and approved by the Storting, but also those who live far away and who have no personal contact with politicians and other people in power. and impact. In connection with this, the media can also be a critical watchdog who sees people in power in the card and shares information with readers if they find out that power has been abused.
Secondly, the media allowed the inhabitants of a country to discuss the political and cultural development of the country themselves. If a controversial election is to be taken in the Storting, some citizens may express their dissatisfaction with this election. This is how those who make political decisions know that there is dissatisfaction in society, and this is how the inhabitants can also try to influence the political discussions.
Those who work in the media create journalism, but in order for this to be distributed to large groups of the population, one is completely dependent on communication technology. The first important development here was, of course, the printing press. With it, one could for the first time effectively print and share information that could be disseminated to large numbers of people. Especially in Norway, the newspaper is our most important medium for public debate and information sharing. Later, radio and television came into being as central forms of media.
False news has been shared in newspapers, radio and television before. Nevertheless, the emergence and spread of the internet is central to understanding the role that fake news plays today. With the internet, it has become much easier to both produce and spread fake news. Setting up a website and storing data is very cheap, and in order to produce fake news, you basically only need a PC, internet access and a person to write the cases.
In the age of the internet, the term fake news has become useful for at least three different phenomena that one can do well to distinguish between.