Why does fake news work?

After reading all those articles and excerpts about the spread of fake news, all I could think about was how people could actually believe it.  Many of the readings/viewings addressed this topic, but I felt like adding my own input.

The first and simplest reason I think fake news works is because many people are gullible, and that includes me.  I remember the first time I read an article from The Onion, I was really confused as to why Alex Rodriguez wanted his teammate to die.  I didn’t understand the internet as well back then, and that’s part of why I think some people are gullible.  Like younger me, they might not really understand this (relatively) new form of media, and are more likely to just believe what they see.

However, blaming people for being gullible and believing everything they see isn’t fair because a lot of what they see is meant to misinform them.  Craig Silverman said the reason false news did well was because “it’s highly emotion-driven.”  I think this makes sense because emotional appeal seems simpler than trying to lie to someone while making a logical appeal.  By writing bizarre stories that paint the other side as the monsters they are imagined to be, they can easily manipulate people into believing whatever message is pushed across and get it spread among like-minded people.

Finally, I think the third reason these fake articles work so well is because of the current political climate.  With such bizarre events going on in the past year, a bizarre headline doesn’t seem so out of place.  Also, the current president and his advisers have been blasting the mainstream media which only helps legitimize the fake news because it makes it seem like the reputable mainstream media is on the same level as these fake sources.

This strange world makes it easier for any manipulative, greedy person to spread whatever lie they want because now, it seems like the strange news just fits right in.



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