“Fake news” is a term used to describe inaccurate news stories, outright lies, or misinterpretations. Fake news harms people in their day-to-day lives; however, when it comes to an election, fake news can be especially dangerous. You may be wondering how?
The term “fake news” became popular during the 2016 U.S elections. The term along with another term “post-truth” became prevalent during/after the election. In this context, “post-truth is used to explain a concept where objective facts have less influence over public opinions in comparison to personal and emotional belief.” In simpler terms, post-truth refers to a situation where emotions have more influence on public opinion than concrete facts.
Fake news is said to have severely impacted the 2016 US elections and now scholars are studying the effect of fake news on political elections. Politics is a field that needs objectivity more than ever. Most of the time, fake news isn’t spread in a hateful manner, sometimes it’s simply misinterpretations. The problem is how fast the news spreads. Let’s discuss two ways fake news could affect political elections.
1. Through the internet
Unfortunately, a lot of people get their political beliefs and stance from social media networks. While it is good to expand your beliefs and understand all sides of the spectrum, your political beliefs should not be influenced by the personal opinions of others.
Your political beliefs should come from your morals and your stance on political issues. It’s easy to go on Twitter and jump on a political bandwagon, but it’s dangerous, especially if you’re a registered voter. The system needs educated voters making informed decisions. Base your decisions on political debates by the actual politicians not someone else’s interpretation of their debate.
2. Through fixating on extremist views
Studies such as this one have shown that fake news tends to fixate on extremist or hyper-partisan politics. They pick extreme topics and tie the name of a politician to it. Before the politician is even aware of what is going on, the news has spread like wildfire across the nation. This is especially dangerous for democracies and multi-partisan states. More often than, not members of the other party will run with the incriminating news regardless of whether it’s fake or true. This shows that the spread of fake news is not necessarily always about the person but about curbing their party and political ambition.
While some studies show that fake news has an impact on elections, others like this one conducted to research the 2018 Italian elections argue that fake news has no significant impact on elections but are only tools parties use to attack each other. This study suggests that the rise of fake news has only reduced trust in political figures and traditional news sources.