It is no secret that online media publishers and bloggers rely on behavioural patterns associated with social media to drive their content by way of the ‘viral trend’ effect. A story or viewpoint is carefully written up for consumption, but once published, the KEY objective is to steer a gathering engagement that will potentially influence the beliefs and opinions of the consumer.
With that in mind, social media has now assumed for itself this ‘silent power’ that commands and steers conversational agendas on all fronts. Literally almost, everything goes which has opened the floodgates for fake news.

In my last blog article I shared some insights on the shifting professional roles within the Uganda media landscape and noted among the insights the meek consumer of news has now become a powerful ‘collaborator’ instead of being merely the source.
Behavioral patterns show that there are actively open-minded thinking consumers, involved in the search for alternative explanations and use the evidence to constantly review the news agenda. But this can be very exhausting and people may not cross-check as much as before.

Unfortunately, this vulnerability for consumers to believe in fake news can also elucidate the tendency to engage in less analytic banter on their social media timelines. Analytic thinking involves deliberate thought processes that consume memory resources thus remnants of fake news content in that case are not all that surprising. The growing stream of reporting on and data about fake news, misinformation, partisan content, and news literacy is hard to keep up with.

The best explanation is that consumers, the true victims of ‘fake news’ cannot tell the difference, because they are not trained in investigating sources and generally believe what they read. And notably, social media timelines is increasingly their first source of information for all news.
Strategies on how to combat this like, social filters on all online media and legal frameworks, have begun to roll out across the globe. The aim is to bring much needed responsibility to the content developers.

But conscience consumers are advised to be ‘woke’ before drawing ‘big conclusions.’ To wrap it up, we should all be aware of the fake news going on around us especially in ‘perceived’ times of crisis and conflict. This is most concerning during occasions when the media is being heavily filtered and this is where the silent power breeds.

About the Author: WMC Editor

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