Let Fake News Exist.

Any Junior College student, former or current, will know that ‘Media’ is a huge theme in the General Paper syllabus — in 2017, fake news made up a huge part of the content taught in my GP classes.

Why we need Fake News.

Before we talk about ‘fake news’, we need to distinguish them into different groups. Do note that these groups have many sub-groups in themselves, and there may be other types or groups that exist.

  1. Opinion based news. (Biased Reporting)
  2. False inferences from data. (Global warming ‘not a thing’ due to Global cooling)
  3. Inferences from data that are neither wrong nor correct, but differ from that of social norms. (Climate change is man’s fault)
  4. Accidental spread of false information. (Sharing false info without verification)
  5. Information with intent to mislead. (GP Definition)
  6. Information that has the intent to defame a person/organisation. (News about Trump/Clinton during 2016 Elections)

Fake news is absolutely necessary because without false information, there is no real information. Fake news also offers room for development of key inferential and fact-checking skills that all people should have.

Another key reason why fake news is needed is simply because when people doubt information, or have false inferences, it drives the producers or supporters of said information to do further research to strengthen their data. This makes all doubted sources more reliable.

Most importantly, opinions of a person or organisation that is or might be false should not be banned, and should rather be proven wrong. Controversy aside, Donald Trump’s claim of Obama not being American pushed 44 to release his birth certificate. Similar to my point above, this pushes for accused subjects to release more information, which generally benefits people.

Additionally, how would we know if something is true if there’s no fake news about it? If there’s nobody around the globe who claims that the Earth is flat, do we assume that the Earth is round/oval? We know or believe that the Earth is not flat, because without the very claim of it being flat, we would have not find out that it is indeed, not flat.

Innocent until proven guilty.

Who is to say what’s real and what’s false?

If I claim that the Earth will end in 2020, am I wrong or right? No one knows until the event/claim has occurred, or been proven to be right/wrong. Someone who spreads false information about something without it being false or true at the time of publication should not be shamed or charged.

Who’s responsible?

  1. The Media

Journalists have an important role to play; ensuring that all their reporting is correct and unbiased. If something is reported incorrectly, an apology and correction must be made.

2. The Government

The government’s role should not be to restrict, but rather to dispel or counter fake news threatening national security, or international relations.

3. Consumers

We must doubt almost every information that we read, be it by simple source-checking, or by the more in-depth cross-referencing methods.

We should also not call people out for spreading opinions rightfully — claiming that they fake news.

We too must not encourage or facilitate the spread of fake news.

4. Producers

The producers of information and data should make sure that their sources are correct and presented in a clear and unbiased manner. This reduces the amount of people who are doubtful of their research.

When there are those who counter these data sets, the producer of said data and information must be able to prove his point well.

The Solution is Education.

The Secondary School syllabus of the Humanities encourages students to learn cross-referencing, source-checking, action-words, and biases, just to name a few. The same can be said of the Junior College syllabus, with the addition of Project Work.

This should start from young, dare I say from Primary School. With more and more young internet users, education about how to counter and identify fake news is just as important as the teachings of how to be safe from predators.

Education is almost always the key, and in Singapore, it is ever so effective. By teaching Singaporeans from young about fake news, the problem of fake news is avoided. Potential producers of fake news know that it’s wrong, and potential consumers of fake news will know that they’re reading fake news.

What can we do now, in the short term?

As responsible users of the internet, we must all play a part by spreading the techniques and skills needed to identify fake news.

Indeed, we should inform someone if what they’re reading or sharing is fake news, but we should not shame someone for unknowingly doing so.

  • Keep reading the news
  • Don’t isolate yourself from alternative opinions
  • Always make sure that if you doubt something, quell those doubts

Thanks for reading.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Maximilian Oh

Maximilian Oh

37 Followers

Editorial Writer from Singapore. Pursuing Political Science and Philosophy at the National University of Singapore.