With regards to the dangers posed by fake news, society’s safety is currently being compromised by a sense of confusion and misinformation about the origins and true nature of the threat. The seriousness of the distribution of misinformation disguised as news cannot be overestimated.
The flames of fake news swiftly carried on the winds of social and other media can destroy our society. – Robert W. Janke, Professor of Education at Baldwin Wallace University in Berea, Ohio, USA
There are a growing number of examples of the dangers posed by fake news stories, that range from intentional misstatement of facts, to outright lies, and conspiracy theories. In fact, we have also experienced foreign governments conducting cyber attacks and successfully disseminating fake news to destabilize Western society. Fake news has contributed to a concentration of voters with a particular worldview and a disregard for other viewpoints, no matter how factual or well-reasoned they are.
In 1987, the Federal Communications Commission eliminated The Fairness Doctrine, which required media to provide equivalent time to differing views. Some news outlets then began to adopt a business model that provided cost-effective advertising, with focus upon a target or niche group of citizens. As a result, they only reported news that confirmed a particular set of preexisting beliefs and demonized differing views. The Fairness Doctrine offered a system of balanced information, and should be restored.
Society has arrived at a time when people call legitimate news media “fake news” and even “an enemy of the people.” Others use the term liberally to describe any information they disagree with. The truth is that we all have biases and beliefs that may distort our perceptions of news. The greatest challenge may be for each of us to have the courage to objectively evaluate the news and, when presented with better information, be willing to change our opinions and decisions.