Why you shouldn’t believe everything you read online

Are you falling for fake news reports on social media?

Do you believe everything you read online? Australians may be too quick to believe news reports they read on social media, and social media commentators say this is likely to have consequences when it comes to future Australian elections.

In the wake of the influx of fake news reports circulating during the US presidential election, concern is growing that Australians may also be victims of false news designed to manipulate people towards a particular mindset.

The false claim that the Pope had thrown his support behind Donald Trump was a notable example of the power that fabricated news reports can have. Websites such as Facebook and Twitter provide people with an unprecedented level of access to news that was never possible for past generations. In the world of global media, Facebook is dominating. Around 44 per cent of people in the US use Facebook as their primary news source.

How do you tell a rumour apart from legitimate news? Technology commentator Paul Wallbank says the 24-hour cycle of online news makes it difficult for social media websites to ascertain whether news reports are true or false.

“What's fake news today could well turn out to be a real story tomorrow. You could have something that's breaking,” said Mr Wallbank.

Mr Wallbank says false news reports are already circulating on Australian social media, with stories geared towards the anti-halal movement a strong example.

And he says the situation is bound to worsen.

“We're going to see increased use of, if not fake news, then selective reporting of news – fake groups on Facebook and so on.

“This is a problem that is not going to go away, and if anything, we're probably going to see it get worse over the coming years,” said Mr Wallbank.

What do you think of the news you see on social media? Do you try to read unbiased news sources? Do you tend to believe what you read online or are you more sceptical?

Read more at ABC.net.au


    To make a comment, please register or login
    23rd Nov 2016
    Talk about pot kettle black. The media were all over attacking Trump with every possible nasty "NEWS" about Trump. It has long been a tactic of the left to tell huge lies at every opportunity, to try to brainwash the less discerning.

    Could it be that the right have learned something about propaganda from them, & our lefties don't like it.

    Painful isn't it Amelia, when your opposition learn some of your tricks.
    23rd Nov 2016
    100% spot-on, Hasbeen. "News" as presented by the Fairfax media and the ABC emporium are really not worth the paper they are written on. It is nice to see how the leftwing media/commetariat is hyperventilating at the moment. They still have not got the message that PC has gone far enough and the majority is sick and tired of it.
    23rd Nov 2016
    My clear observation is that the pro-LNP media does precisely the same thing - only on a day when 500 jobs in WA will vanish alongside jobs in Payless Shoes and part-time work was on the rise again, could a media outlet claim Malcolm was leading the country to a brave new world of prosperity by planning to cut company taxes to boost their profits to their shareholders,thus swapping rises to Social Security for handouts to the fat cats as the chosen way to promote spending and thus economic activity.

    Choice-mobile, son - that's what it's all about...

    For many years I've rejected the facile label that says Labor works for the workers and LNP works for business - Labor these days certainly only works for its special interest groups, but it is plainer and plainer by the day that the LNP works for business and its shareholders first and foremost.
    23rd Nov 2016
    Your post is a total joke Hasbeen. How about we start with one Tony Abbott is you want to discuss lies.
    The left? The US election did see the left (Democrats) being favoured but then you omit to say that Wall Street had done a deal with Hillary Clinton and as we know money has no allegiance other than money.
    You cannot even assert that the Labor side of politics is a dirty player. That title belongs solely to the Liberal Party who is way ahead on points. If the full extent of its behaviour were ever put down on paper and sent to every person in the country there would be revolt. In case you are in denial consider the NSW state government: caught out fraudulently getting election funding. Tell me that federal Liberal is not tarred with the same brush. The only difference is that we do not have a federal ICAC to catch them so they do as they like.
    23rd Nov 2016
    Hasbeen, who am I supposed to be in opposition to?
    23rd Nov 2016
    Most of what you read and hear in advertising also these days is either a lie or a conn, and we are being flooded with advertising. It is called capitalism and private enterprise, so allowed.
    23rd Nov 2016
    Fake news. It was the foundation of the whole Hillary campaign in the US, and what's now fanning the flames of all the riots and disorder in the streets since the election. In fact the whole Hillary crusade was run on fakes. Fake charges, fake statistics, fake tv ads, fake promises.....

    So even in Australia you've got a fake news system already established, huh. Apparently it's the wave of the future. It's the way the complainers and social misfits in the system acting like a bunch of spoiled brats attempt to force things their way. Always devotees of Hillary and her political system. Never associated with Trump.
    Apparently there are Hillary disciples over there, and they're probably capable of some of the same things she is. Maybe not quite as crafty and inventive as the American version though.
    23rd Nov 2016
    I received the most horrible "Trump" lies in email and FB posts during the election campaign from people who believed the garbage explaining away his incompetence.
    However I have now found you can't trust the reviews on motel bookings or product sales because they may have either be falsely bumped up by the seller or the competitions items being deliberately rundown. So using the internet to research the benefits of a product is now null and void.

    23rd Nov 2016
    I don't believe one word of this........... (ROFL emoticon implied).....
    23rd Nov 2016
    Mediscare anyone?
    23rd Nov 2016
    Already having its life blood sucked dry as we speak....
    23rd Nov 2016
    Yes KSS.
    And Getup hack less than a week before the election????? Methinks that Mediscare might have been retribution. No fun playing by the same rules is it.

    23rd Nov 2016
    Saw a beaut "selective reporting" the other day - one very pro-LNP paper actually said that by objecting to a government idea of flicking asylum claimants on Nauru off wherever the government decreed or stopping all assistance to them - those 'activists' who opposed this idea were condemning those asylum claimants to a life of misery on Nauru...

    How that for "selective reporting" - this one gives a totally new twist to the term 'spin', perhaps spin with double screw, vertical back-flip, and then re-screw both sides...... and ending with a clean entry into la-la land.
    23rd Nov 2016
    I repeatedly hear Turnbull attacking Labor for anything and everything. Problem is that most of his attacks are so bogus that Billy the Blacksmith can see through the lies. The man seems to have turned into a right wing turd. A pity as he appeared decent when he first came to politics. What a difference a few years makes.
    23rd Nov 2016
    If you want real dishonesty you only have to look at political reporting. In the US the pro big business candidate Hillary Clinton was continually touted as being well ahead. Here in AUstralia the big business Liberal Party routinely gets the lion's share of coverage as well as the media portraying Labor candidates poorly or even as bad people whilst at the same time for the most part talking up Liberal Party candidates. Our last 2 PM (Abbott and Turnbull) lies through their teeth and were pushed into office. Look at almost any of the big media outlets at the time and what was happening was obvious. And then the bastards claimed that the ABC was unfair because it did not push their man as well.
    The trouble with our media is big business has bought it and directs it to behave in its interests. Accountability has disappeared and grooming voters with lies and deception is becoming acceptable. It never should be corruption is corruption is corruption. That's the bottom line.
    I wish people did not believe everything they were told but then people are so gullible.....which is why they are so easily done over. Sad.
    24th Nov 2016

    That was an excellent comment!

    fish head
    23rd Nov 2016
    And where, pray tell, does one go for " unbiased news sources"? Most of what passes for "news" is a journalist's interpretation of a happening.
    23rd Nov 2016
    I've learned to be highly suspicious of news articles that do not give the association of the writer. The Australian is good at not doing this. Most articles are opines by the writer but we are rarely told who they are affiliated with. You can always research who they are on the net though the content usually gives some hint. Consumers of the news today need to apply critical thinking skills to what they read or hear. Balanced reporting seems to have gone put the window.
    23rd Nov 2016
    Left, Right - just the difference between two hands. Take everything you read with a pinch of salt, look for confirmation in news sources that you trust as there are pits and traps in most so-called news websites, just as you would for scammers or grifters. But given the 24 hour news cycle sometimes it's hard to note the difference between real and fake news - only time will tell but by then the damage is done.
    23rd Nov 2016
    Are you suggesting that everything is NOT true??????? I couldn't understand why my kids gave me a funny look years ago when I said sommat bout "well, it must be true, it's on t.v." Is news "reporting" or "stories" on the internet similar ...... is someone gunna burst my bubble?????????? Next you'll be telling me that the sky is falling.

    Unreal, you say???????????
    23rd Nov 2016
    The best example of fake news I know of is, half-truth. Its like saying a person did something that is fairly innocent, but then supplying completely false motives for that persons actions.

    Politicians, newspapers, etc do it on a regular basis to cause fear or scandal. The view of the political party in opposition, always tends to be opposite, regardless of how ridiculous it sounds.

    This is why the oath in court is, to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Professional liars have been around for a long time.

    24th Nov 2016
    Ow, PLEASE..... why would you believe anything you read/watch current forms of CORPORATE (mainstream) MEDIA. If our Corporate (mainstream) Media gave us ALL the news or (heaven forbid) wasn't totally biased towards their own INTERESTS which doesn't include the people of any nation, we the people would NEVER EVER VOTE for THEIR party.....(yep, folks, that would be the LIBERAL PARTY).

    So, because THEY are losing power to online news from around the world, THEY don't want you to believe what you read online.... just THEIR propaganda!

    Yes, we are getting more and more controlled news online... ie. Facebook FEEDS you its own "selected" NEWS (a FOREIGN mega CORPORATION) what a surprise; and Google (another FOREIGN mega CORPORATION) FEEDS us their views by directing their search engines to things THEY want you to read, in election times.

    THEN you had a recent heavy Clinton supporter group who 'created' a dating site and told the CORPORATE (mainstream) MEDIA (CmM) that: Julian Assange (one of our own - a hero) went on their dating site and sexually addressed children and that he was a paedophile. Yeah, the CmM printed this bogus story without checking.. until a group of ordinary discerning Americans decided to do some investigative journalism of their own and found that that the site was completely bogus and that the group of people concerned were heavy high up Clinton supporters, etc, etc.... it was obvious and easy to track.... IF anyone wanted to or the CmM actually did their job properly.

    Moral of the story.... don't read Facebook or Google NEWS and be very, very, very CYNICAL about what is written anywhere.... look for self interest AND racism, bigotry or anything that directs your attention away from, say bad economic management or megacorps who want to steal resources and destroy environments, and get you to attack vulnerable people or things.

    Go to places like REDDIT who are still MODERATED by Foreign Mega Corps but present a much larger range to choose from and there are some really good comments made which are worth the read.

    The CORPORATE (mainstream) MEDIA are terrified of losing POWER over you, so redirect you back to their blatant omissions, propaganda and lies.
    24th Nov 2016
    It's getting increasingly difficult to discern the truth. With the US election we had CBN news on the side of Hillary and Fox on the side of Trump, which is why the election was so close. Normally the big news corporations push for one of the two parties.
    I like to get my news from different sources, rt.com and atimes.com are giving a very different, and truer story than the Western news, which from experience I know to be very manipulated (I'm a traveller) Unfortunately we don't have a free media anymore.

    25th Nov 2016
    as usual the comments we expect of labor mick and as for mussolini can anybody ever think musso got the guts to not agree with labor mick, classic comment on one of labor mick's posts, mussolini's comments" that was an excellent comment" when labor mick commented that the australian press was biased because they did tip krumpie and after reading 4fun comments I nearly ran out of hankies, especial with trebor crying his/her eyes out, all this because old krumpie showed those labor hangerons a simple truth, you can run with a lie but you can't hide of the truth, labor mick, mussolini, trebor, barak, our middle east correspondent, our ex publick servant, keep your ranting and raving up, it makes for good reading of how imbeciles think
    27th Jan 2017
    heemskerk99. Thanks for that. I was thinking along those lines but; couldn't be bothered wasting time on commenting.
    27th Jan 2017
    We can't believe everything we read in the press or see on TV either, that so-called news can be twisted to suit the agenda of the owners, with scant regard for the facts.

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