You understand by now that fake news and other types of false information can take on different faces. They can also have major impacts, because information shapes our world view: we make important decisions based on information. We form an idea about people or a situation by obtaining information. So if the information we saw on the Web is invented, false, exaggerated or distorted, we won’t make good decisions. For examples of impacts, let’s return to some of the examples presented earlier
Financial impacts or impacts on my health
If I like that blogger and her post pushes me to buy her product… Will I spend $60 a month for an ineffective product? Will this product interact with other medications I take? If I eat nothing but bananas for 12 days, obviously this can affect my health. It’s far from a balanced diet!
Will I stop going out because dangerous clowns are circulating in my town? Will I have insomnia? Will my quality of life decrease?
If this post leads me to believe that Muslims are invading the country, will I be angry at the government’s policies? Will I maintain racist ideas? Will I vote for a political party that wants to close the borders?
Bullying and violence against innocent people
False rumours that target specific individuals can have major consequences. These individuals may be harassed on social media, and targeted by insults and threats that sometimes have real-life impacts, as we have seen with what happened in India and Mexico. You must never rely only on non-validated information circulating on social media to decide that a person is guilty.
Will I vote differently if I know the Pope endorses a politician’s candidacy? It is now known that false information played a major role in the last American presidential election. This is one of the reasons why the media has spoken so much about the fake news phenomenon, because this is an important democratic issue. In short, the impacts are very real and we must avoid sharing fake news.