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What is "Fake News"
02/07/2017 2017 Election Raymond Z
keywords: Fake News

There has been a phrase that has entered the American language recently that is many times, either misunderstood, mis-labled or improperly interpreted. That term is "Fake News". In the interest of clarity, let's forget about who is credited with using it today. Instead, let's focus on its history and its meaning.

"Fake News" is not New

The first thing to understand is that manipulating news in one form or another is not new. NPR has an enlightening article on how not just fake news, but faked photos were published to "couch" how people perceived news. This includes, according to the NPR article, how Muslims were designed to be perceived. In some form or another, fake news has been used from the Crusades to Nazi Germany to today. In many instances, it has been used relatively harmlessly to sell magazines. You may have seen the headlines on tabloids in the check out line like "Alien Autopsy", "Civilzations Found on Mars", or "Elvis is Alive".  In other cases, it has been used as propaganda to engineer what people think and what they believe.

Social Media and Fake News

While there was a time when you could decide whether or not to believe fake news, today much of it hits you right in the face when you open social media. There is a saying in marketing that what you say, multiplied by how many times you say it, is the formula to achieve success. This means that if something is simply untrue or unproven, you just need to say it more often. This is more easily done in social media when people believe what they see, not what they verify. Now comes the key. If what you say has even the most minor aspect of truth to it, you greatly increased the odds of people accepting it through repetition.  But if the article is based in fact, it is still not by definition, "fake news".

The Bacon Shortage

Recently, the New York Times reported on a purported "bacon shortage" as fake news. But is wasn't fake. There is less pork being produced. That is a fact. Will it cause people to make BLT's without the bacon? No. But the fact is there is some truth to the article. This is far different from saying something with absolutely no basis in truth.

Fake news is fake. It has no basis in truth. Almost every network and media has used headlines to lure viewers and readers with teasers that are based in the truth. There is a difference between fake news and marketing and we need to be smart enough to understand the difference. Details at 11.

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