Not All Trending News Online Is True, Study Says

By Maria Slither - 14 Feb '15 14:53PM

Be careful with what you read online. Some of them may not be true.

A recent book about journalism studies 'Regret The Error' which summarizes studies about hoaxes and online journalism said that websites are competing for page reviews and visits to gain. And to gain more traffic, sometimes, they have to publish fake and unverified news to promote online engagement,' GIGAOM reported.

According to Craig Silverman, the book's author and a fellow at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University, media companies, particularly traditional ones, intentionally distribute 'questionable information.'

"News websites dedicate far more time and resources to propagating questionable and often false claims than they do working to verify and/or debunk viral content and online rumors. Rather than acting as a source of accurate information, online media frequently promote misinformation in an attempt to drive traffic and social engagement," Silverman wrote.

Silverman further elucidate his premise in a separate report, "Lies, Damn Lies and Viral Content: How news websites spread (and debunk) online rumors, unverified claims, and misinformation.

As cited by Straights Times, the report said, "Many news sites apply little or no basic verification to the claims they pass on. Instead, they rely on linking-out to other media reports, which themselves often only cite other media reports as well."

GMA News mentioned examples of fake reports mentioned in Silverman's repot.

It stated that news about a Kurdish woman dubbed "Rehana the ISIS slayer," or the "Angel of Kohane" which went viral in October last year as an example.

The heroic quality with the heroine killing at least least 100 Islamic fighters made it viral online.

"When (fake) information is out there and websites are covering it, there is an imperative on the part of news organizations to look at it, flag it for readers and tell them what we know and what we don't know. If we remain silent, the ones who win are the mindless propagators," Silverman said.

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