More and more data is uploaded into the internet every day and not all of it is benevolent. The term “fake news” is routinely thrown around today after gaining widespread popularity in 2016 during the run-up to the U.S. presidential elections. But the history of falsified information goes way back, to the Renaissance and even before.
Misinformation is a powerful tool, whether its falsely identifying Kristen Stewart’s girlfriend or trying to boost a politician’s agenda.
But why is fake news and misinformation booming today? And how can you identify the different types of misinformation out there? Learn the answers to these questions.
An Unparalleled Age of Connectivity
You live in a world of unparalleled connectivity and technological advancement. Video editing services and software are readily available to people who know where to look and how to use them. Social media platforms give individuals the opportunity to connect with thousands instantaneously.
Below are the three reasons misinformation is much more widespread today than it was just two decades ago.
•Widespread reach – Social media platforms changed the global landscape in just 10 years. Prior to their popularity, people had to go on live television or slowly build followers on websites to get the same reach as social media influences can accrue in a few months. This makes it very easy for people to spread misinformation.
•Lies spread faster – Misinformation is intentionally packaged to be more attractive and shocking than real news. They may present some form of revelation or imply something scandalous. More insidious types of misinformation combine text with what seems like authentic video or photo evidence to increase their virality and shareability.
•Artificial intelligence – Computer technology and advanced software have made it very easy for people to manufacture authentic looking images and videos. This makes it increasingly hard to distinguish which is real footage and which media are manufactured.
Types of Misinformation
There are five major types of misinformation that can be found on the internet. Knowing what type of misinformation you can encounter on social media and on the internet can help you identify them before you hit the share button.
1. Satirical Media
Satirical media can range from the fairly plausible to the truly absurd. The point of these articles, videos and news clippings is to comment on existing power structures, highlight the ridiculousness of real life and mostly to entertain audiences. Satirical media is usually easy to tell because of the circumstances they portray. Good satire sites also take pains to ensure anyone who goes to their websites or spends the time to actually read their articles instantly understands that what they’re looking at isn’t real. However, satirical media can be easily mistaken for real news, particularly if people just browse past them on their social media feed.
2. Manipulated Media
Manipulated media refers to pictures, videos and articles that have been edited to twist their contents. Sometimes the information is directly altered, like editing the headline on a news article. Sometimes th editing is more subtle, like slowing down a video slightly to make a person talking seem intoxicated. These types of misinformation can be very hard to spot, thanks to the development of advanced editing software.
3. Media in False Context
Another way to spread misinformation is by simply changing or removing the context of another form of media. A picture can be cropped or resized to alter its context. Videos can be cut before the context of a statement is made clear, changing the perceived intent of a particular media. Media in false context can be the easiest to verify by looking up the rest of the image, video or article. However, this means audiences have to go out of their way to actually research a piece of media, something not everyone is inclined to do nowadays.
4. Imposter Media
Imposter media refers to media that tries to pass itself off as authentic. Someone may edit an image to superimpose the logo and news banner of a reputable news agency or edit a video to make it seem like the official broadcast. Imposter media can be mistaken for satire, but the intent is to deliberately spread false information rather than entertain audiences. Imposter media can be very convincing but only requires light research to disprove.
5. Fabricated Media
Fabricated media is a relatively new form of misinformation, thank to the development of advanced technologies like deep learning intelligence and photo editing software. Through these technologies, purveyors of misinformation can create entire videos featuring celebrities or politicians and even mimic voices through computers. This is the most insidious form of misinformation and one of the hardest to d detect.
Misinformation is a bane on modern society, diverting attention away from true issues and empowering the unworthy. Your knowledge and attention to detail can help prevent the spread of misinformation today.