The year 2016 saw a significant rise in “Fake News”. And the recent news about the Nigerian President’s death brought it to light again in the beginning of 2017.
The news of President Muhammadu Buhari’s death was published by a new previously unknown sites “metro-uk.com”. The false report said that he had “died in a London Hospital where he was receiving medical care.” Please note that metro-uk.com is different from the actual Metro website which is “metro.co.uk.”
Another Huffington Post cloned site “huffingtonpost-fm.com” reported that the President was caught committing suicide.
An investigation by a reputable online newspaper, The Cable, showed that the false sites are being operated and owned by the same company, WILD WEST DOMAINS and the sites were registered in Arizona, US.
The Presidency was forced to deny this rumours and the president had to even tweet a picture of him watching the news to show he was alive and kicking.
Wherever I am, I keep up with news from home. Channels TV is one of my favorites. I'm proud of what the Nigerian media are achieving. pic.twitter.com/LciLrzyaxT
— Muhammadu Buhari (@MBuhari) January 22, 2017
The foreign press is also not immune from this fake news issue and unfortunately, big social media sites such as Facebook and Google have been blamed for not managing the spread of fake news.
During the American election campaign, Facebook was blamed by many for its complicity in the explosion of “fake news” a phenomenon that some say helped Donald Trump take the Oval Office. Though Mark Zuckerberg initially dismissed the issue, he has talked about taking concrete steps to address the problem.
One of such steps was revealed in a blog post this week which stated that Facebook was going to alter the way its “Trending Topics” section works in order to try and keep fake news items from moving up that leaderboard.
Google is also banning websites that host fake news from using its online advertising service with a combination of automated and human resources to decide what is false. Recode reports that Google kicked 200 publishers off one of its ad networks in the fourth quarter, partly in response to the proliferation of fake news sites.
Now the question is, “Will fake news ever stop?” I don’t think so but I do believe that everyone has a right to stop the spread of false news as it can be detrimental to the belief of real news.
According to Meredith Eaton, Vice President of March Communications; “If fake news stories spread, there’s also a risk of battling for newsworthy headlines. It’s easy to concoct an interesting piece of news, but often harder to garner interest in real news – especially for particular industries.”
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