Free Essay: Social Media Contributors to Fake News and Troll Armies

Published: 2023-08-16
Free Essay: Social Media Contributors to Fake News and Troll Armies
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  United States Internet Social media Social issue
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1804 words
16 min read

The 21st-century generation is characterized by rapid technological advancement and widespread use of social media. While news took time to disseminate in the past, the digital culture has turned the world into a global village with the almost instantaneous spread of information. While social media platforms can potentially divide and equalize, it has often polarized our society through the rampant spread of fake news and troll armies.

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How Social Media Platforms has contributed to Real News about Fake News Issues

David A Graham wrote “Some Real News about Fake News” article in the Atlantic on June 7, 2019. The article explains how the issue of fake news in the current American world has emerged as a problem which not only misleads people to believing fake news but also alters individuals' perceptions about the news received.The article describes the consequences of fake news to the American population as a factor that has not only ruined the reputation of several individuals but also misleads people to believe the worst calamities or best news to be reality. Fake news refers to information that may be incorrectly given either unintentionally or intentionally by misguided individuals aiming at deceiving others (Pepp, Eliot and Rachel, 67).

Social media usage can be attributed to the challenges witnessed in fake news given in America today. Dealing with the situation posed by the emergence of social media platforms in the news industry is a significant challenge mainly due to the emerging numbers of people who prefer following news from social media rather than reading newspapers or listening to radios or Television. According to Gelfert, the 21st-century generation is lazy, especially in issues relating to the reading, and they prefer information that has been analyzed and synthesized for them (84). The growing number of social media users and the emergence of backchannels in the news industry results in the spread of fake news. Among the most common social media platforms, which have significantly contributed to the spread of fake news, is Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Youtube, Google+ among others.

According to Austin, 1.62 billion individuals visit Facebook social networking sites daily (21). Therefore, based on the statistics, dissemination of fake news via Facebook will lead to the information reaching billions of individuals. Unlike news processing and editing stations, Facebook news is unverified and unedited. Therefore, the billions of users cannot discern between fake news and real news. Many Facebook pages are formulated with the intention of attracting as many followers or likes as possible. Therefore, the founders or the owners of the pages may opt to use false information to lure people in following them. Facebook users, unlike other social media platforms where the information is availed to specific people, are prone to corrupted news from all sources. The privacy information contained on Facebook accounts is vulnerable to hackers as it is accessible to just about anyone on the internet.

Different individuals use Facebook for diverse reasons. One of the main intentions of Facebook users is to interact with the outside world and gather information about what is happening around the globe. Some nefarious characters, with either malicious or attention-seeking intentions, manipulate the users. The information posted on Facebook accounts has destroyed many prominent politicians who are victims to scammers on Facebook pages. Scammers release information regarding the personal life of political figures and thereby tampering with their credibility as potential leaders.

Political and individual news is not the only information prone to degeneracy by fake news on Facebook pages. Many corporations have been tarnished by competitors or individuals with a grudge or sour history with them (Wessel, Ferdinand, and Alexander, 75). The American community has been subjected to fake news regarding prominent enterprises either in their way of business operations or poor quality of their products or services. However, due to the spread of fake news in society, many people do not believe much of the information from Facebook due to its dubious liability.

Twitter is the second largest social media platform offering fake news to the American community (Wessel, Ferdinand, and Alexander, 82). Unlike Facebook accounts, twitter users are exposed to less fake news owing to the personalization of the accounts. Many twitter handles are managed and owned by individuals or corporations so the only information given comes directly from them. However, impersonation are widespread owing to the increase in cybercrimes and power-hungry individuals. After a person creates a twitter account, either using an individual's or corporation's name, people may be led to believe that the information shared in their twitter handles is from the person whose name appears in the tweets. However, most of the news contained is fake and aims at sabotaging the company or the people that the fake account holders masqueraded as.

Most twitter account holders have followers who have to subscribe to their pages. Therefore, to keep the accounts active, account holders may use unverified information or fake news. This results in misguiding the followers who search for evidence to either nullify or accept news. Many followers then share the information to non-account holders who have no access to the social media pages.

Like other social media platforms, Youtube, Pinterest, and Instagram users are also susceptible to fake news. According to Pepp, Eliot and Rachel, people choose the social media platform from which they can follow the news from (67). In most cases, social media news attracts readers based on what they want to read or believe rather than veracity. Therefore, social media users spend a lot of time reading news articles from questionable sources but contain ear-pleasing content. This leads to further polarization of society along the lines of political beliefs and social class ideology.

Youtube lovers subscribe to accounts that belong to their favorite influencers. To attract as many subscribers as possible due to financial incentives, influencers post information that they deem will please their subscribers. However, the videos may be based on corruptible sources or lies that have been fabricated based on the creator’s own beliefs, likes, or associations. Dissemination of fake news to the public results in confusion, stupefaction, and misunderstanding of truth.

Verifying fake news is nearly an impossible endeavor, especially in the 21st century (Jankowski, 286). For example, due to the panic and economic disruption caused by COVID 19, many postings materialized with bogusevidence of nonexistent vaccine, sham treatments, and questionable origin of the disease. Many users are eager to accept any positive news on their social media pages regardless of whether it is fake or real. Therefore, many bloggers and scammers have contributed in spreading rumors, unsubstantiated facts and figures. Most people have limited resource and knowledge to verify the news, and they just end up believing.

Fake News in social media has contributed immensely to both the divide and the equalization of society. According to Pepp, Eliot and Rachel, the information is disseminated to all individuals in America regardless of race, gender, social class, or political affiliation (1). This has resulted in some people opting not to believe any news from the social media while those privileged subgroups who have the time and resources to ascertain whether the news is fake or real can manipulate the rest.

How Social Media Platforms has contributed to Troll Armies

Since voters select who gets in political offices and the prohibitively high cost of winning governmental roles, troll armies have been utilized to influence public opinion. According to Malmgren, troll armies refers to social media propagandist hired by politicians to smear opponents, spread disinformation, and post fake texts for pocket money (9). Troll armies investigate the personal lives of their targets and use private information to tarnish their reputation. Dirty politics involves spreading rumors to ensure that the competitor is discredited in the eyes of the public and thereby limiting their chances of securing an electoral position. In most cases, the troll armies are deployed to spread false information either about the opposition or generate propaganda on the government's operations.

According to Aro, troll armies are a violation of the country's democratic rights and the ethical principles of governance (221). Therefore, the hired social media army assumes a false identity to ensure that their backers remain concealed. Unlike other public relations officials hired by politicians, the troll armies are anonymous, and therefore, their real identities usually cannot be uncovered. According to Malmgren, the problem of troll armies is widespread across the globe, with governments and politicians exploiting them to spread propaganda (9). However, the main reason why the government uses the troll army is to manipulate social media account users into trusting their own false ideologies.

Spreading rumors and false information is a tactic that has been adopted in the political arena since antiquity. In recent times, Russian troll armies are believed to be the largest group hired by politicians in America during the election period (Malmgren, 9). The United States presidential position is usually contested by individuals with massive economic power and control of a significant population. Thus, the high price needed to hire troll armies is not a problem to them. According to Malmgren, during the last United States of America presidential elections, President Donald Trump hired over 300,000 troll armies to spread propaganda (12). However, based on the history of countries where the use of technology is widespread, Trump is not alone to have online soldiers.

Facebook has significantly contributed to the emergence of troll armies around the globe (Howard, 2020). Creating an account using a fake name or identity is an easy task on Facebook. Creating a massive number of multiple accounts is a relatively easy task, which leads to troll army influencing a significant portion of the population. Twitter accounts, Instagram, Google+, among other accounts, are no different from Facebook in this respect and the type of material users are permitted to share on their timelines.

The danger of spreading propaganda on online platforms is that the readers cannot verify whether the information is accurate or not. Therefore, they inevitably end up believing disinformation posted by the troll armies regarding a person or the government’s undertakings. The targeted subjects often cannot defend themselves from the accusations or misinformation posted on social media due to the sheer volume of cyber assaults from bullies.

According to Howard, troll armies have hijacked democracy and deprived people of their chance to raise their concerns or grievances (2016). When individuals attempt to voice their disapproval of the government, they can be harassed and silenced by the troll armies. Politicians have devastated their opponents using troll armies and deceptively promoted themselves only to underperform in their given roles. Many have mastered the art of deceit to the extent that distinguishing lies from facts are impractical. Innocent lives suffer for wrongdoings they did not commit while governments flounder without accountability. Freedom of speech can be suppressed by troll armies deployed by politicians to silence whistleblowers.

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