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Fake news: why they are born and who spreads them

Hoaxes and false news, created in fine mail or simple fruit of the scam, move the world of online sharing and are reflected in newspapers. Amplifying the pollution of the multimedia ecosystem.


The first fake new was published on May 15th, 1973, in a newspaper at the University of Utah’s Faculty of Political Science, and concerned the sighting by goat herder John Cunningam of a horse with two heads between the stone expanses of the Great Salt Lake Desert. The head of the Park Rangers, Henry Loyd, at the request of the shepherd, spent the whole afternoon searching for the strange animal but then lost his orientation and was found motion a few days later, with strange bites on the body.

This is an example of a hoax, the ones you find in piles on social and online. The ingredients are more or less always the same: a striking fact but with the semblance of likelihood, a body/ institution of a country that exists but is talked about little, a wink to some kind of conspiracy theory and a name catchy at random, to make it as realistic as possible. The multimedia ecosystem is now so polluted and invaded by this type of garbage, that it has lost much of its role as a direct, unmediated and genuine source of information.

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A situation so infected to have generated, necessarily, the birth of some templars of good information that, under the flag of debunking, they expose themselves to social hatred and threats of varying severity to reveal all the fake news that every day pervade timeline, various pages and systems of messaging. Those of Bufale Un Tanto Al Chilo and know this well, but not only, that dedicated time, energy and patience to filter all the leachate of the web to show how there is fake and fake the millions of launches and "news" that invade the network every day. 

But then, what will be the prolific source of so much information?

This is a timely question, but it is not an easy one to answer. In fact, they are not simply activists who use the web and social networks to proselytize and influence public opinion on social or political issues. It often happens that the various party beasts are caught in the foul in propagating retouched photos, very tamed news or blatantly bogus data. Much more often, however, behind the news diffusers undifferentiated, the black bag ones in short, there are interests and operators interested only in a return economic, visibility and fame. This makes even more mephitic the pollution of the web because any matter becomes a starting point and ground to invent events, tragedies, alleged illicit, with the sole purpose of stimulating the consciences of those who often read only the first line, do not open the link and then share and comment with sentences from the criminal code. A law of the Italian State that then they often have to consult carefully, along with a good lawyer, when with great surprise they are called to answer for various accusations, threats and defamations.

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The strategies that lead to the birth of the fake new and the fake themselves could also be stored in the folder "who knows" if it were not that all that garbage contributes in an important way to determine orientations and opinions, as well as often bringing the less prudent Internet users in the arms of scammers of various kinds. Strategies that fish in the heap, throwing hooks with more or less poisonous baits to which a certain share of navigators takes the bait. If you are sold for the thousandth time in Vigevano they found in the attic 100 million lire but the bank, cruel, refuses to convert them into euros at the limit you make a laugh about it. But sometimes the challenge is more subtle and you find yourself with more serious news, perhaps accompanied by images very well done thanks to artificial intelligence. In that case it takes free time and nerves to verify everything before sharing it and believing in it, to avoid further polluting the social and also our conscience. 

In all this, the media plays an often not positive role and even large newspapers are drunk fake so obvious and shameless to surprise even the most strenuous defender of the traditional press. The background noise of the hoaxes is then amplified dramatically by communicators, presenters and even journalists on TV and radio relaunch blatant nonsense without asking too many questions.

The result is the quite unconscious assimilation of a quantity of useless, fake, misleading news that then settles and condenses, creating false beliefs and opinions oriented to art.



Illustration by Gloria Dozio - Acrimònia Studios