“Fake news” has been big news now for two years. After the 2016 presidential election, concerns about the spread of disinformation have been persistent, and major social media platforms (namely Facebook and Twitter) have drawn significant criticism for failing to monitor and reduce the amount of fake news being spread there.
Now, as we head into the 2018 midterms, concerns over the impact of phony news stories on election results has taken center stage. After two years’ worth of efforts to ramp up monitoring efforts, social media companies claim that they are improving their abilities to stamp out fake news.
Not everyone agrees.
Oxford University recently published a study of activity on Facebook and Twitter that concludes that fake-news sharing actually has increased by 5 percent since the 2016 election. The study emphasized a key issue for tech companies as they struggle to set integrity standards. Specifically, these companies are tasked with defining what fake news is.
Some sources included in Oxford University’s classifications of fake news led to some controversy. Social media leaders have pushed back on the inclusion of certain websites, such as Breitbart, which has been embroiled in partisan scandal. What’s needed are exact guidelines to define where these companies will draw the line on “legitimate” and “phony” sources, and to what extent the public can find a consensus.
The point stands, however, that fake news is alive and well, trying to sway voters’ opinions ahead of the important midterm elections. The best way to guard against this is to read trusted sources of news and check facts against other reports and publicly available information.
But there’s also a cybersecurity angle to the fake-news phenomenon.
Several fake-news sources function as phishing attack vehicles and malware containers, preying on people who are too emotionally wrapped up in content to notice that they’re being scammed. Hackers’ capitalization on the proliferation of fake news is a serious security concern for organizations; employees must be able to identify and avoid such sites — especially because waiting on social media companies to weed out these sources doesn’t appear to be a viable strategy.
Lunarline is a leader in cybersecurity training, including workforce privacy and security training programs. To make sure you and your workforce are ahead of the hacking trends that could hurt your organization, contact us today.