Updated February 02, 2020 16:06:23As media outlets struggle to deal with a wave of fake news stories, and more and more people are taking to social media to report and share what they read, a new study has identified what is happening in Australia’s information and communications technology (ICT) sector.
Key points:The study found fake news is “a growing problem”The study also found that the prevalence of fake stories is increasingThe study identified several factors that make fake news more difficult to reportFake news is the most common form of misinformation and propaganda in Australia, and is a growing problemThe study, conducted by the Australian National University, found that, “fake news is a new form of online disinformation” and the number of “fake stories” that have been reported in Australia has increased by about 200 per cent since 2014.
“People have become aware of it, people have been concerned, people are trying to deal, people try to be more informed,” said the study’s lead author, professor Mark Crouch, from the Centre for Digital Journalism at the ANU.
“There is a real need for a response, for a clear framework to be set out that people can understand what is going on.”
Fake news was identified by the ANUP in 2016, after it was reported by the media outlet The Australian that the government had “taken away the power of state agencies to manage fake news”.
The ANUP found that “fake” was a term used by media outlets to describe stories published by news organisations that were not fact-checked.
“The term ‘fake’ is a way of saying the story was not checked, it is not verified and therefore not credible,” Professor Crouch said.
“But this is exactly the opposite of what the ANUS study is saying, that the story is true.”
According to Professor Crouches report, the term “fakenews” is used in a broad sense of “any news that does not have a basis in fact and that relies on subjective assumptions and stories”.
“The definition of ‘fakenews’ as applied to social networking sites includes articles that are not fact checked and stories that are false and misleading,” he said.
The study’s authors also noted that “a significant number of Australian news stories” were not “fact-checked”, with many being “created by people who have a bias against people of colour, LGBTIQI people, or Indigenous Australians”.
The researchers also noted a rise in the prevalence and number of fake “news” stories published in Australian newspapers, with the number increasing by “about 100 per cent” between 2016 and 2020.
“More and more Australians are now aware of the threat of fake and misleading news,” Professor Dickson said.
“We are seeing a number of news organisations taking steps to address this threat, from social media and other tools to public health campaigns, from investigations into fake news.”
“As a result, we are seeing real consequences for misinformation and disinformation in Australia.”
The ANU study found that more than 90 per cent of “false” and “misleading” stories on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms had been fact-checking.
“We found that nearly 60 per cent [of the fake news] stories were from people who did not verify the content of the story or who were not aware that it was fake,” Professor Marni Koechlin, from University of Technology Sydney, told the ABC.
Professor Koeichlin also said that a number in the study reported that the articles they were reading were fake news, although “we didn’t get the chance to ask those people”.
“We don’t know what that means.
We don’t even know how many of these stories are fake,” she said.
Professor Crouch and his co-author, Professor Della-Garcia, also noted the increased use of “tweetbots”, a technology that has been around for some time, but has “grown substantially in popularity” in recent years.
“Tweetbots allow users to tweet news stories without actually having to read them, and we’ve found that it’s becoming increasingly popular,” Professor Koeechlin said.”[They] can be used to promote news stories that have a large number of followers and that have little or no fact checking, and that is often true for social media sites, where the average user does not check the content.”
Professor Crouch said the rise in fake news could be linked to a number “of factors, including: a greater awareness of the risks associated with fake news in Australian society; increased use by organisations and individuals of Twitter and Facebook platforms to promote fake news; and the increasing use of social media for spreading misinformation.”
“People are increasingly willing to share misinformation and misinformation online,” Professor Rama Datta from the University of Sydney told the ANZ.
“These types of social networks and the way they spread misinformation and misleading content is not necessarily a good thing for Australia’s democracy,” he added.The AN