What is Fake News?

I think it is high time someone says it: What the heck is fake news really? I know that in today’s political world the TV is flooded with lies, leaks and straight-up misinformation constantly force-fed to the general public. But I think it’s time that this newly coined phrase is not only broken down for people like me to better understand, but also truly criticized from a free press and treasonous standpoint.

The REAL Start

I’m sure we would all like to point the finger at the Trump presidency or liberal news as the start of this whole mess, but to truly understand this politicized concept, it is important to leave politicians out of it at the beginning. Just for a minute, think about the presidential campaign and your social media news feeds. If you are like me, you have a number of videos and articles related to the election and stories on the candidates. We, as a society, share this information rapidly and with very little skepticism of its truth, just as long as it validates our already set beliefs.

This is not a new concept. Articles on the corruption and flat out lies that were unearthed and mass distributed throughout the campaign flooded the Internet. The truth was, the damage was done long before people shared the fake Donald Trump interviews or Clinton Foundation exposés. News of this caliber was already being written, distributed and shared at alarming rates with little-to-no fact checking. In a dayand age where speed and entertainment are the most important things, it is very alarming that Donald Trump’s victory was a surprise to so many Americans.

Alternative Facts and Alternative World

You’ve heard it from Conway and Spicer, along with every news network on television: alternative facts. Back in January, after the highly controversial inauguration turn out—a seemingly unimportant tiny detail that would define President-elect Donald Trump’s new presidency—Sean Spicer addressed the Press for the very first time lying to the American people. As shocking as this information was, nothing rocked the world quite like Kellyanne Conway’s response: Alternative Facts.

This not only infuriated the reporter interviewing her, but also started the first very small, yet sizeable snag in the idea of “truth.” Although we can all agree with the reporter that “alternative facts are not facts; they're falsehoods,” the line between personal truth and actual truth reached a scary middle ground. As I mentioned before, social media has changed the way we consume news, and information in general. Facebook feeds and Twitter accounts are a perfect representation of our “truths.” Say goodbye to the days of opinions, that is neither classified as a fact or a lie, everything is an alternative take on the truth: ALTERNATIVE FACTS.

So, What is Fake News?

It is the deliberate publication of hoaxes, propaganda and disinformation claiming to be real news—often using social media to drive web traffic and amplify their effect. So what does that mean for the future of news? Nothing good or easy, I can promise you that. News is at the lowest of the low right now and searching for not only the trust of the public, but also the support of the “government.” It is a difficult balance, but after several months of sloppy news coverage and parody satire that wasn’t taken seriously, it is time for the media to gain a focus.

You’ll hear it a million times: this country is polarized more than ever. And although I agree the country is far from a cohesive unit, it is hard to believe it will remain this way. People all over the world are coming together to try and figure what is happening to the news. Late night TV hosts are opening up the conversation; newspapers and magazines are coming together to figure out what the public needs to be more informed. All these things need to happen if we as a country will ever trust the news again. And I can’t wait for that day!