The Internet has been recently serving other purposes other than communication such as getting news of the world. In the past few years, the number of people who read the newspaper has drastically decreased de to the presence of the internet and social media platforms that now serve as an easier and faster way of delivering a message and spreading the news. However, this dependency has lead people to spread fake news in order to get attention, create a buzz and get people to believe a certain think.
While preparing for a presentation about fake news for the Mozilla Internet Health Report activity, I was exposed to articles that tackle this topic in details. While preparing for this presentation, I was exposed to some examples of pictures on facebook that are fake and real, and I should have detected whether they are real or not. As I was doing this exercise in order to make it with the class on the presentation, I realized most of my answers were wrong. And then it got me thinking whether everything I saw and believed on social media was real or fake. This exercise and the articles I’ve read helped me realize that not everything I see or read on the Internet is real.
One of the examples of fake news the professor showed us in class was “The Nasa Girl” video in which a university student, Sarah Abouelkair decided to make an experiment and fake that Nasa, Ellen TV and a bunch of other big shows contacted her personally because she suggested the idea of cooking chicken under the aftermath of a rocket. In a couple of days, this video has gained the attention of many Egyptians who believed this girl and were proud that an Egyptian girl has been contacted by Nasa and those big shows. After a while, the girl released a video where she revealed the truth behind that this was a joke and she decided to fake that it was real as an experiment and a way of teaching people that not everything on the internet is real and that it is easy to fake a message sent by Nasa or what so ever. After watching the second video, I realized that there are many things on the Internet that we are exposed to and believe and no one tells us the truth behind it afterwards. And I realized that if a university girl can fake something like that and reach millions of people, then so can anyone. Sarah’s message was very important and I believe it taught so many people to analyze things before they believe them.
In one of the classes, the professor started off the class by showing us a video of Trump in the White House, commenting on a big picture of the “Qaaba” that was hung on the wall and he was saying that this is a sea of love where people come for the same purpose. When the professor showed us this video I automatically believed it and thought that Trump had this hung in the White House because he wants Muslims to vote for him and take his side. However, a few minutes later, the professor showed us the real video where Trump was commenting on the people who were voting for him. When I saw the real video, I thought to myself, why would Trump have a picture of the Qaaba hung on the wall of the White House, why didn’t I have a doubt from the first place. And this, as well the activity of the Mozilla Internet Health Report made me think quite a while before I believe anything I see on the Internet.
Another example of fake news that went viral and that people believed was a picture of lit lanterns in the sky reflected in a lake in the Golden Temple in India while in the celebration of Diwali. The picture was beautiful and went viral on the internet and people believe it was true. Later the creator of the picture revealed the real one and claimed that the one with Lanterns was photoshopped.
One of the examples of fake news that could be harmful and terrifying for people is the picture of the shark on the street that went viral during Hurricane Harvey in the US. This picture terrified people in the US and some actually made sure they were safe at home until they receive news that the Shark was sent back to the ocean. Unfortunately, this was fake news that went viral and the picture is one taken in the ocean not in the street.
Fake It To Make It is a game created to educate people on fake news by basically setting the goal of the game to create a fake news website that you develop and you should be getting viewers and gain money from the website. In this game, I was shown how easy it is to design a fake website that attracts people and that tricks them into thinking that it’s an official website with real news. And I was also shown the huge amount of money one can make just by creating a website that delivers fake news. Such a job could be attractive for many people and so easily done, therefore I realized that it is very probable for someone to design such a website.
One of the main things we learned in class is the Four Moves which taught me how to detect fake news are some steps that help me evaluate the source I am reading. First steps is to get to the original source of the information in order to evaluate the trustworthiness of it. The second step is to check out previous work that has been done related to the topic and whether someone has done any research about it before. The third step is to read what other people say about the source. The fourth step is to reread the information with all the three previous steps now that I know all that. Those four moves are very effective and help in the detection of fake news.
One of the exercises we did in class was the practical way of adopting the four moves of detecting fake news. Our professor gave each 3 of us an article to read and detect whether t’s real or fake. The article my group got was about Pepsi containing fetal cells. First thing that came to my mind when I read the article was why would Pepsi do that? And where would they get so many fetal cells? Then I started by evaluating who the source is and previous work about that topic. I found absolutely nothing and the source was not credible at all. I did not bother continuing checking whether the information was fake or real because it was obviously fake.
9) Another activity we did in class to apply the Four Moves was an Arabic article that stated that Ireland was the number 1 country to adopt the morality of Islam, Egypt number 91 and Saudi Arabia 128. As soon as I read the title, I thought that this article is fake, how come does Ireland come before Saudi Arabia and Egypt. However I started evaluating the source and realized that this article is translated and it was published in “The Journal”. Applying this move made it clear from the beginning that the source is credible since it has been published in an official Journal.
“Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it”. This phrase sums up everything about fake news and how to create a buzz with it. When you make the lie big, simplify it and repeat it to the people, they will believe it and will follow you. This part of the semester got me thinking about fake news in Egypt. As a marketing student, it made me relate to public relations and how some people create fake news about the company and get people to believe it in order to steal their sales or prestige. Public Relations in this case is the way out of this buzz, which is creating a good image stronger than the fake one that has been spread.