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
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