Case study of fake news

Case study of fake news

Melania Trump discovers the love story between Michael Phelps and Hilary Clinton: all thanks to a secret chat on the Pokemon Go application. The story of fake news has evolved over time. Fake news, like a perfect Darwinian being, has adapted his body to the needs of nature and society. The natural selection goes from news handed down orally, to the invention of the press, to the spread of modern means of mass communication, up to the arrival of social media. Social media has drastically subverted the rules of evolution as if the dinosaurs had found themselves having to ice skate at any moment. The so aggressive spread of the internet and social media had a significant impact on the lives of all human beings on the planet, which had as its main cause of computer illiteracy. Just imagine how in 2021 it is possible to have network coverage in the most remote part on the planet, to realize that in the space of ten years there has been an evolution in the use of the internet, conveyed through social media.

In the following article, a small manual will be provided, not on how to recognize fake news, but on how to create a credible (that captures attention) and viral fake news!. Having no political and economic interest, this article will simply treat a news in an ironic/sarcastic manner.

First Phase: Research of the topic

If you do not have specific ideas or, it is recommended to search on online search engine: Google Trends. In order to discover which are the main trends in the world. For this exercise we will choose the trends in the year 2016[1].

Analyzing the trends, it emerges that the most sought-after word of all is Pokemon Go, following the launch of the application designed for smart-phones, tablet and PC (Pokemon Go is an online platform that allows you to search for Pokemon around almost any city in the world, interacting with other players). As clearly emerges in the major research trends, 2016 was the year of the United States presidential election. In addition, 2016 was the year of the Olympics in Rio. Regarding the most clicked people on Google we find Donald and Melania Trump, Hilary Clinton, Michael Phelps. Here are the assists for our topic.

Second Phase: elaboration of the concept note

At this stage, what is most important is being able to get an idea of ​​the subject, find a basic story on which to embroider the plots of our fake news. Just put together: Topic, Time frame, Who, What happens and the probable Consequences of a gesture/behaviour.

Main topic: US Presidential election.

Time Span: First semester of 2016, before the elections and before the Olympics.

Who: Melania Trump, Hilary Clinton, Michael Phelps.

What: Playing Pokemon Go, love story, secret agreements, Rio Olympics.

Consequences: (probable) loss of presidential elections, (probable) non-participation in the Olympics.

Third Phase: Search or create fake sources

In this case, the sources and supporting documents for the dissemination of news were totally invented using only imagination and skills in the use of software. The intent is to demonstrate how reading authoritative newspapers or consulting online sites, which have become a point of reference over the years, increases the truthfulness of the news and it can manipulate our minds into believing the news. 

This is a screenshot of Wikipedia, manipulated by inserting an additional line that marks the news we are processing.

 

Also the first page of the three most important news paper were manipulated by using a newspaper page generator accessible for free on the web (they are the main newspapers from: America, France and Italy)

Fourth Phase: The fake news

For a few hours now, a news has been bouncing among the newspapers from all over the world, a news that would jeopardize the presidential election race for candidate Hilary Clinton. Due to a wrong access to the Pokemon Go platform, the wife of candidate Donald Trump, Melania, while she was in the White House connected to the service PC provided to the two candidates, discovered a secret chat within the application. After mistakenly logging in with her husband’s rival’s credentials, she couldn’t believe her eyes after reading the flirtations and statements between the two lovers.

The chat besides declaring the love between Hilary Clinton and the Olympic champion Michael Phelps (with their respective user names: HilaryDemocraticSince1947 and TheBaltimoreBullet) brings up an alleged agreement between the two lovers for the 2016 Olympics and on the prizes in the event of medals ‘gold. The storm, which has just begun, does not predict anything good: according to experts, Michael’s participation in this year’s Olympics in Rio would be at risk, not to mention Hilary’s abrupt rush to the White House. Bettors are ready to bet on Donald as the future President of the United States of America.

The two lovers at this time did not want to release any statement, being both married and as we read in some clips of the stolen chats: “As soon as you win the election, my dear Hilary, we will go to sign our divorces to the lawyer on the same day!”

Fifth Phase: Conclusion

The intent of this article is to show how simple it is to create and make news that go viral. At the base of the success of fake news we certainly find their ability to be in step with the times, captivating and ready to satisfy our need for hunger for news. Being so simple to be able to always be informed about what is happening in the world through the ease of accessing the internet, what is essential is to check the sources and not be satisfied with the first version of a news but to deepen and cross-check to evaluate its truthfulness... But above all remember to delete the chat history if you use Pokemon Go on another device!

Ermes Amato

[1] https://trends.google.com/trends/yis/2016/GLOBAL/

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