Fake news is a worrying and uncomfortable issue that has caught the attention of many around
the world. Although there is not much fake news in leading media outlets due to rules and
regulations, the spread of fake news through social media is very common. Such fake news has
caused death, and their impacts on the world political and economic arena is massive.
What is fake news?
Fake news is information that is published without a verified source of evidence, deliberately
distorted or fabricated with ulterior motives. Some people deliberately post fake news in order
to gain public acceptance in something that is not real, or to attract more attention to their
Why is Fake News being disseminated?
Fake news publishers have many purposes. Perhaps a party that is involved in publishing the
news may have commercial or political agendas. It can also be seen that such news is
sometimes published to tarnish the image of a person or an organization.
We see instances of fake news published innocently, by a person or group of people with the
mindset to see the public cheated by receiving such false information.
There is evidence that the dissemination of fake news goes far back as human civilization. The
cause of the suicide of the Roman politician Mark Anthony in the first century is said to be a
How to identify fake news?
To identify fake news, one must have insight and understanding of world affairs. News, photos
or videos that are deemed false or fake by an ordinary person can be easily found in our
community by instant sharing on social media or other media platforms.
A survey conducted during the 2016 US presidential election found that 20 fake news stories
about the presidential election attracted more attention than 20 accurate and truthful reports.
A group of social media analysts in Sri Lanka recently told the BBC Sinhala website that
Facebook asked them to help monitor and report hate-speech posted on the platform in
The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) has provided a
simple overview of some of the things that the public must address when identifying fake news.
To identify a fake-news, focus on the following:
1. See if there is a source for information.
2. Read the whole message, not just the headline.
3. Investigate the author of the said message.
4. Look for external sources that confirm the messages.
5. Give some thought to the date the news was published.
6. Make sure whether that news item is funny or real.
7. Think again about the impact the news has had on you.
8. Ensure that you communicate with parties that have a greater understanding of the
BBC’s Sinhala website also contains a number of important guidelines to help avoid posting fake
news. Here is a summary of the guidelines:
1. Finding out if someone else has posted related news
2. Find out whether a particular message has been broadcast on radio, television or
published the newspapers
3. Ever heard of the institution or the Facebook page that has released the news?
4. Investigate the integrity of the website that had published the news
5. The nature of photos or videos (sometimes fake news published with edited photos and
6. Consider whether the news is credible
There are numerous examples of disasters in history due to fake news. It is not difficult to
understand that the impact of circulating fake news on society is not trivial.
Due to the rapid expansion of social media, including Facebook, over the past decade, there has
been no regulation on the flow of information, and the problem in regulating and controlling
fake news has intensified.
It is not difficult to understand that we Sri Lankans can be quickly deceived by fake-news and
propaganda. Racial and religious issues that can’t be resolved peacefully have been
transformed into a major communal crisis by means of false propaganda.
One of the best ways to prevent the spread of fake news is to not to share with each other
without verifying the authenticity of any message.
Media also creates authentic stories. The sources are supplementary and the accuracy adds
strength to the message. This definition of news is a slogan used in modern democratic
journalism. Understanding it properly and following its rules will help create an environment
where fake news is not necessary in the media and social arena.
Original article written by: Methlal Weerasuriya