You may not be aware of it, but there is currently a vicious war being fought between real and fake news outlets. Discredited alternative media platforms ranging from conspiracy websites to white nationalist forums, have been exploiting the unregulated internet for over a decade; but it is only in the last few years that they have started reaching a somewhat eye-raising number of people worldwide. Unlike their parents, many young people today get their news exclusively from the internet, and are faced with a baffling array of potential news sources, some accredited, but many of them fake. So just how do we determine whether a news source is fake or accredited, and what should we do in order to quell the spread of fake news so that people can rest assured that the information they are getting is true and accurate?
Below are two lists of signs that you can look for to determine whether a news website is fake or accredited, respectively.
Signs of a Fake News Site:
- Promotes outlandish conspiracy theories such as the idea that 9/11 was an inside job
- Supports radical political candidates such as Donald Trump and Ron Paul
- Adheres to radical right wing schools of thought, such as the Austrian School of Economics and the Mises Institute
- Criticizes the Federal Reserve Bank and promotes the use of various forms of counterfeit currency such as cryptocurrencies, gold and silver
- Promotes radical interpretations of the United States Constitution such as the idea that the second amendment permits citizens to own fully automatic rifles and hand grenades
- Denies the science of Climate Change and gives credence to debunked alternative theories about the climate, such as those involving the sun
- Promotes home schooling and criticizes common core and other initiatives designed to improve our education system
- Engages in hate speech against victimized groups in society such as undocumented Americans, Black Lives Matter and Muslims
Sings of an Accredited News Site:
- Makes assertions that are fact-checked by trusted and independent organizations such as Politifact
- Has journalists with exclusive access to White House press conferences
- Is invited to cover numerous high profile events such world summits, the Presidential debates and the NFL
- Has been operating for more than two decades
- Has a television channel or show on a major network
- Has a popular radio show available on the most widely accessible FM or AM frequencies
- Has professional presenters and journalists with qualifications from accredited Ivy League universities
- Has professional and highly maintained state of the art studios
Using these lists as a guideline, one should be able to discern which news sites are fake and which are accredited. But sadly, most young people will never see this article, and will be hopelessly drawn into believing all manner of fake news. In order to truly solve this problem, we need to introduce sensible internet regulations that require websites to have licenses in order to publish news on the internet. Any website caught posting fake news would have its license revoked, and any forum that refused to adequately regulate its content would also lose its license. We need to crack down hard on fake news websites in order to protect the next generation from misinformation and deceit; as without accurate information about the world around them, they will be unable to lead our planet to the bright and prosperous future that we all desire.