Fake news or information disorder is false or misleading information presented as news. Fake news often has the aim of damaging the reputation of a person or entity, or making money through advertising revenue.
Although false news has always been spread throughout history, the term “fake news” was first used in the 1890s when sensational reports in newspapers were common. Nevertheless, the term does not have a fixed definition and has been applied broadly to any type of false information presented as news. It has also been used by high-profile people to apply to any news unfavorable to them.
Further, disinformation involves spreading false information with harmful intent and is sometimes generated and propagated by hostile foreign actors, particularly during elections. In some definitions, fake news includes satirical articles misinterpreted as genuine, and articles that employ sensationalist or clickbait headlines that are not supported in the text. Because of this diversity of types of false news, researchers are beginning to favor information disorder as a more neutral and informative term.
Dangers to your digital safety
Cast the first stone who has never read messages advertising a new premium version of WhatsApp or about being blocked on Facebook, asking you for your credentials to a specific page to restore access. This kind of disinformation is simply another social engineering scam disguised as popular news, usually as a way to spread malware or steal logins from unsuspecting netizens.
So, yes, there is fake news that can be an actual risk to your security in the digital world, devised by cybercriminals and shared as chain messages.
Fake news dangers to your finances
The Brazilian population has never been as engaged in matters related to investments and finance as now — which may be a reflection of the challenging current economic situation. On the one hand, this interest is good. On the other, it’s all the disinformation creators need to spread fake news on new money-making opportunities.
Particularly regarding the highly controversial cryptocurrencies, we see fake predictions, fake initial coin offerings, and fake automated profit schemes becoming more and more common. It is better not to put the cart in front of the horse and look for information from reliable sources.
Misinformation on people’s health behaviors
The systematic review found that people feel mental, social, political and/or economic distress due to misleading and false health-related content on social media during pandemics, health emergencies and humanitarian crises.
However, not all effects of social media have been negative during the COVID-19 pandemic. Eight reviews reported positive outcomes, and some found that several social media platforms generated significantly improved knowledge and awareness, higher compliance with health recommendations, and more positive health-related behaviors among users compared to classic information dissemination models.
The paper acknowledges the role of social media in crisis communication and management during health emergencies, but points to the need to counter the production of misinformation on these platforms. Local, national and international efforts are required, as well as additional research.