Imagine coming home, going online, and finding your face smeared all over major news sources, and threats sent to all forms of your social media accounts. You might think this would never happen, but it has happened to many people. A high-school student named Nicholas Sandmann came home from a rally to find that he was being falsely accused of harassing a veteran, and people saying that he was a “racist little trumpster”. However, 58% of people believe that mainstream media often report something that has falsified information in it, but there is still the other 42% believe that media has true facts most of the time.
On January 18th, 2019, a boys life was changed when he was waiting for a school bus to come and pick him and his schoolmates up. A hate group, the Black Hebrew Israelites, were shouting racial slurs at the group of boys, such as “A bunch of babies made out of incest, you worship blasphemy.“ when a person from the Indigenous Rights March, which had just ended, approached them, and started banging his drum. This man was Nathan Phillips, a vietnam-era veteran. He claimed that he was “trying to get through them” but he stopped right before Nicholas Sandmann and continued to play loudly. Nick did nothing except smile at him, and the video of this confrontation was uploaded online. Without getting the full story, the media pounded on the story, publicly shaming the students of Covington High School, sending them death threats, and asking people to dox their information.
The media has included plenty of falsified facts in their stories, like how the Pope endorsed trump in the 2016 presidential election. These lies last as well. In a 2017 survey, 51% of republicans believe that Barack Obama was born in Kenya, despite that theory being debunked. The average level of trust in the news is a stable 44%, according to a 2018 survey by YouGov for the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. In order to stop this, Google plans to invest 300 million dollars into a series of projects to tackle false information and support credible news organisations. False information can be used for helpful purposes, like in Ukraine, where government officials “leaked” that a russian journalist was dead in order to stop an assassination plot. However, this caused many conspiracy theories to pop up about the situation and cause problems.
Despite the efforts of many organisations to stop fake news, it is still a problem, and it can affect the people in the stories. It may seem impossible to stop the torrent of false information, but it can be done. Journalists must fact-check their stories before they publish it, better than they have done before. No one would like to receive threats, so why encourage them?