Fake news

In recent weeks, "fake news" has become a hot topic. In the recent US presidential elections, ‘fake news' involving both candidates and its possible influence on US voters' decision-making processes have been at the frontline of discussions. 

The phenomenon is not unknown in the European political landscape either, with similar reports in Italy, Germany, the UK and Austria, which has also given rise to concerns at the EU level.
The main issue is how fake news can go viral very quickly. In late November, a Twitter user tweeted that CNN was airing porn and included a graphic image which included the CNN logo and visual identity. The moment the Drudge Report retweeted it, the (fake) news travelled fast with reports from reputed media including The New York Post, Mashable, and Variety corroborating the rumour. By the time CNN had denied it and proved the story was a hoax, millions of people had read and consumed the information.
The spread of ‘fake news' also affects tech companies. Recently, Facebook and Google have been under pressure to act fast to remove fake news from their sites, often created in order to gain advertising advantage. Indeed, in the case of Google, Google's recent search algorithm has increasingly ranked search results on how likely users are to click on them. Therefore, chances are the reason you are reading this article is because Google's ranking algorithm was able to determine that, according to your social shares, likes, or comments, this particular article is of interest to you.
We have access to information so quickly nowadays that, before fact-checking happens, the news has been shared, liked, retweeted and believed by millions of people. Even if we may hold criticism towards the media for their reporting methods or tech companies for their lack of response when ‘fake news' is available on their sites, our only ally ultimately is our self-judgement and critical thinking. Therefore, media literacy has become our most important instrument to distinguish professional news-gathering from amateur rumour-mongering.
In the Better Internet for Kids resource gallery, you'll find a range of resources produced by the Insafe network of Safer Internet Centres in the topic of media literacy.
Find out more information about media literacy in the sixth edition of our Better Internet for Kids (BIK) bulletin.

Related news

Next steps against fake news

The European Commission (EC) has launched a public consultation on fake news and online disinformation, and set up a High-Level Expert Group (HLIG) representing academics, online platforms, news media and civil society organisations. 

New study: Young people in Austria feel unsettled by fake news

  • Awareness
  • 06/02/2017
  • Austrian Safer Internet Centre

On the 14th international Safer Internet Day, taking place on 7 February 2017, the Austrian initiative Saferinternet.at will present the results of its recent study on the topic of "Internet rumours: How do teens evaluate information found on the internet?". Social networks are the main information resources for young people in Austria, although they are not perceived as trustworthy. 86 per cent of the respondents indicate that they are insecure as to whether information found on the internet is true. They expect support from their parents and their teachers to acquire media literacy.

Media literacy – best practices from the Insafe network

Nowadays, as we get most of our information through various media outlets, the ability to ‘read' many different types of media has become an essential skill in the 21st century.

Focus on media and information literacy

The sixth edition of the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) bulletin has now been published with a focus on media and information literacy in Europe.

Why media and information literacy matters?

  • News
  • 29/06/2016
  • María José Velasquez Flores (Youth representative)

In this article, María José Velasquez Flores gives her views on why media and information literacy matters for young people, and why they should be encouraged to contribute to internet governance debates on such issues.

Looking for media literacy research? The index might help

  • Awareness
  • 21/03/2016
  • Finnish Safer Internet Centre

In this highly mediatised world, the importance of media literacy is recognised by different actors from all around the globe. The issues related to media literacy have gained interest also from researchers. Studies focusing on these issues are conducted by various scholars and the research articles are published in various journals. To help to promote media literacy, we've attempted to make the information more visible by compiling an index to media literacy research. Take a look at www.medialiteracy.fi.