Of course, the current epidemic of fake news is an entirely different phenomenon. That’s because the amount of news outlets that we have at our collective disposal is incredibly high – no one even knows the exact number of newspapers, magazines or online news portals there are in the first place. And don’t get us started on the amount of status updates that appear on any given social media every hour, worldwide!
One thing is for sure: there is an epidemic of fake news. While the exact amount of those cannot be ascertained (due to fake news appearing in different languages all over the planet), we can get a rough idea of just how much they are a danger to information and to our everyday lives: according to the Oxford Internet Institute, during a 10-day period including the U.S. elections of 2016, a sample of English-speaking Twitter users shared roughly half a million links, 256,725 of which were from credible news outlets, while 203,591 pointed to fake news. The numbers are really close to one another – which indicates that everyone can fall into the fake news trap. This is due to the fact that most people get their news from their social media accounts (according to a 2016 poll by survey by Pew Research Center, 62% of adult Americans only read the news on social networks.
The amount of items in an average newsfeed is so high that most content gets read quickly and absent-mindedly, with people completely unaware when they’re sharing and liking something that’s completely unreliable. This nurtures a fuel tank of similarly incorrect content, which means that beheading a fake news or getting to the bottom of it is almost always impossible. Is there really no hope, then?