Fake news – I can’t believe I believed it!

Donald Trump

Trump’s dismissal of reports on him as #FAKENEWS is a handy way to not answer questions. Trump understands media, and the voter base that supports him. There are a plethora of news websites that make crazy claims. Some of these are easy to spot as fake news. More not so much. And I got caught by one this morning.

Screenshot of FAKENEWS video of American Airlines plane on fire - the video was an old one

Screenshot of FAKENEWS video of American Airlines plane on fire – the video was an old one

A video marked LIVE popped up on Facebook of a plane on fire, and folk evacuating. I shared the news video. I watched with that morbid car crash fascination. There was little to suggest it was fake news. There was a LOT to suggest it was fake news.

Except it was not fake news. Yet it was fake news.

I googled the incident, nothing came up. So I thought I had the story before the European media – I got the link to the video, and made a tweet to Storyful, and got a reply back from one of their clients asking for the link to the source to verify.

The root tells the plant

Then, it looked a bit odd: the live video I went back to, started at the point I was starting to watch it. A bug in Facebook I thought as I looked for the website link.

‘Newsroom’ Thanks for Posting. Please share. Pinned Post. (I wont post the link due to concerns I outline below)

That was all I could find, and on the mobile phone its very hard to get to the actual page of a live video. It seemed live and yet not. Umpteen people commented asking where this was happening, an American Airlines plane on fire on the tarmac.

Then a comment that it was an old video, put up again as a hoax. So then I googled American Airlines plane fire, and found it was from last October.

How did they do this?

Quality of camera and screens have come a long way. They are so good, you can play a film on one screen, and film it on a phone, broadcasting as ‘LIVE’. The end viewer cannot tell it’s a screen and not an actual event.

It seems that that is how this was done, and then I started up my computer.

Sometimes it takes the PC to sort out the men from the boys.

I got the video, went to the homepage, and found the website. It was a fake site, with tawdry articles of waffle, which makes one wonder as to why such would be done?

Why do they do this?

There can be any number of reasons for why it’s done. Vanity as a hacker for spreading a rumour can be the motivation for such fake news. A group of nerds have a competition to see whose tall tale spreads the fastest and farthest.

That is the benign reason, a possibility of spreading fake news can be more devious.

People checking the website may download malware, and so the ability to hack their computer can be utilized. This can do anything from making a zombie PC out of theirs to stealing credit card data.

In this instance there was little to suggest discrediting a critic of Trumps, or indeed of the Republican party. There are many memes with silly quotes attributed to Trump to discredit him. One wonders why would his opposition spread lies? If his people spread the lies pretending to be the opposition, and it’s believed it is the opposition, it discredits them when its found out.

So, every time we don’t check, and it only takes a few minutes, we add to the problem. We legitimise Trump when he says ‘Don’t trust the media, it’s #FAKENEWS’.

All is fair in love and war. Politics is war.

How to avoid getting caught by fake news?

Some will say if Carty gets caught by fake news, what hope is there for them? Well, don’t beat yourself up, it could happen to a bishop. Worse did!

Check before you share. That’s what I didn’t do. I wouldn’t mind only I saw a video warning how not to get caught. Yet I got caught.

Ill sign off with a TED Talk to show you a bit more:

About the Author

Thomas Carty
Thomas Carty is a Renmore resident, having moved to Galway for work a couple of years ago. Both his parents were originally from Ballinalee in Co. Longford but he grew up in Banagher and maintains his Offaly connections with membership of the poetry group Tullamore Rhymers Club. An amateur genealogist and historian, he writes on a range of topics that grab his interest. He works at security to pay the bills, and travels widely around Europe to keep sane!