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Must read for all those who consider everything on internet as a gospel truth! A study by media researchers including many news organizations have fail to separate fact from fiction, and often help unverified rumors and reports to go viral online.
A research fellow at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University conceded that rather than acting as a source of accurate information, online media frequently promote misinformation in an attempt to drive traffic and social engagement
While news organizations have always dealt with unverified information, practices at some websites may accelerate the dissemination of fake news, said the report.
“Many news sites apply little or no basic verification to the claims they pass on. Instead, they rely on linking-out to other media reports, which themselves often only cite other media reports as well,” the study further pointed out.
Examples cited in the study were rumors spread on Facebook and Twitter that an Ebola patient had been identified in Britain, and another that the disease had been found in Richmond, Virginia. Both reports were untrue.
In another case, a story about a Kurdish woman dubbed Rehana the ISIS slayer, or the Angel of Kohane purported to have killed 100 Islamic fighters, turned out to have no basis in fact even though reports about her spread for weeks last October.
Stories of her exploits — and reports of her death — were picked up widely by news outlets but seemed entirely based on falsities.
The findings show a very disturbing trend, said Bill Adair, a Duke University journalism professor who in 2007 founded the fact-checking website PolitiFact.
Sometimes the sheer number of repetitions of false information makes people believe something is true, the researchers said.