When you read the latest headline is your first reaction to run a quick Google search to get more information and see if it is true or do you automatically click ‘share’? As we saw during the 2016 US presidential election, it is most likely the latter.
The rise in the use of social media platforms for getting news has helped keep voters informed more than ever before, but has unfortunately been taken advantage of by some groups hungry for clickbait traffic. It has also created an exceptionally challenging and fast-paced news climate where publishers are competing to be the first on a user’s news feed. As a result, even credible publishers have been faulted for making mistakes and spreading sound bites that provide false information. This is especially detrimental as readers tend to absorb these sensational fabricated stories, but rarely notice their corrections. The fake news frenzy has gotten so bad that trust in mass media has dropped significantly.
Facebook was hit hard by the plague of fake news going viral during the 2016 election so much so that it has taken action to change its newsfeed algorithm to start favoring the news its users label as genuine. Furthermore, Facebook and Google announced a collaborative effort with large media companies to combat fake news surrounding the 2017 French election. Even Snapchat, whose Discover feature inspired a brand new form of video news coverage, has been taking measures to combat fake news. According to Snapchat’s spokeswoman Rachel Racusen, the platform recently changed its guidelines for publishers in order to “empower our editorial partners to do their part to keep Snapchat an informative, factual and safe environment for everyone.”
At the end of the day, the actions the tech giants and media companies are taking to fight the fake news phenomenon can never replace one simple truth - the best way to stop the spread of fake news is to hold ourselves, the content creators, responsible. As creators of short-form videos, we have the power to shape the way a story is told and to choose which information will resonate with our audience. While we aim to create engaging videos, we must be conscious and take all possible measures to ensure our published content is accurate and not misleading.
The Wibbitz Editorial Team is immersed in news on a constant basis. It is our top priority to produce both engaging and factual video summaries of the stories that audiences care about. We have found these 5 steps to be critical during the video creation process, to ensure each story is told in its entirety:
1. Take a breath. Resist the urge to be first and take a step back. Thinking critically about content helps us be more responsible with the power that comes with storytelling.
2. Run a quick Google search. Who else is reporting this story? Are they a credible news source? Although most publishers slant their reporting, they are still kept in check by other credible news outlets.
3. Research various sources and be open to new perspectives. It is more tempting to believe fake news stories when you're looking to confirm your current beliefs.
4. Choose media carefully. The media you use in a video is just as important as the text. Make sure the media and text complement each other and are all telling the same story.
5. Use sound bites in short video summaries, but be mindful of keeping them in context so the story doesn’t end up being misleading or biased.
The more proactive we all are in distinguishing between fact and fiction, putting our bite-sized summaries in context, and creating content that is fun to share, the more we will know that we are doing our part in stopping the spread of fake news.