In recent years, theorists and practitioners of journalism have been increasingly confronted with the spread of false information in mass media. The internet and digital technology accelerate the spread of fake news enormously. The reliability of the information in the mass media is essential because it has a profound and far-reaching impact on the public.
Oksana Berduygina, Tatyana Vladimirova, and Elena Chernyaeva from Tyumen Industrial University, Moscow Pedagogical State University, and Moscow State Technical University of Civil Aviation published a study on the spread of misinformation in mass media.
It shows that false information spreads faster and wider than true stories and that it is especially popular with political topics. The majority of society is deeply concerned with the issue of fake news, and the public has lost confidence in social networks.
Furthermore, their research points out that a clear concept of fake news is still missing in the current literature. Berduygina et al. commit to defining fake news as “information fabrication or deliberate dissemination of misinformation in social and traditional media with a view to confusing the audience for reaping financial or political gains.”
To analyze the use of fake news, the authors define criteria to categorize false information in media content and to identify the motives and consequences of using false information.
The researchers identified the following as the main motives to spread fake news in the mass media: attracting large audiences, generating more revenue through advertisements, and forming the news outlet’s reputation.
For politicians, the motives are improving their own image, damaging their competitors’ image, and influencing public opinion.
Companies spread fake news trying to improve their economic standing and influencing consumers and demand, while individuals use fake news for personal purposes like popularity and life goals.
The main consequences of spreading fake news are customer disinformation and dissemination of hoaxes. Also, it can manipulate the market, damage reputations, and be legally punished. Confidence in mass media decreases while the demand for independent media sources increases since people consume news more selectively.
To read the full text of the study: https://doi.org/10.15655/mw/2019/vl0i1/49561
Berduygina, O.N., Vladimirova, T.N. and Chernyaeva, E.V. (2019). Trends in the Spread of Fake News in Mass Media. Media Watch, 10(12), 122-132.