Rosie Frank, a student in Jon Pfeiffer’s Fall 2016 Mass Communication Law class at Pepperdine University, wrote the following essay in response to the prompt: What is fake news? How have you experienced it? Should it be stopped? Can it be stopped?
Does fake news really exist?! Now, more so than ever, fake news does in fact exist in our day and age. Fake news can be characterized as deliberately publishing information in the form of news, propaganda, and so forth to mislead its audience, gain profit, and/or social media recirculation. Fake news is also the publication of news that isn’t found on credible news sites and/or cannot be fact checked with other publications.
Fake news can be experienced through the accidental click of a website that can mimic a trustworthy news source. It can also be experienced when entering sites that allow native advertising. This is the use of catchy phrases or hot topics to draw your attention, which then redirects you to sites that are only out for profit making. For us tech savvy millennials, finding ourselves on a fake news site isn’t likely to happen. May be wishful thinking! Regardless, fake news has become harder and harder to identify if one isn’t careful.
Should fake news be stopped? Yes. It’s created a digital virus that plagues the minds of those who are emotional about a topic that they in turn spread this information to others. All the while believe they have read some source of accurate information. But at the same time, it is our responsibility as a nation not to hinder the right to freedom of press and speech?
Stopping fake news can potentially be done but it has to be a communal effort from everyone involved. Meaning those that use social media, those who own the social media outlets, and so on and so forth. Many fake news articles were spread during the election season on social media platforms and there are many companies that are taking action to prevent it. But quite frankly, we live in an age of digital information and wanting it quickly. There will always be scammers and outlets that are trying to push awareness.
In the end, fake news only becomes validated when no one takes the time to fact check or read about news in different sources. A simple fact check of googling about what you read would also help prevent someone from believing the false stories that they read.
Rosie is a senior at Pepperdine University majoring in Integrated Marketing Communications.
Jon Pfeiffer is an experienced entertainment and copyright trial attorney practicing in Santa Monica. Jon is also an adjunct professor at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California where he teaches Media Law. COM 570 covers First Amendment issues as well as copyright, defamation and privacy.