For the past couple of weeks, the term “fake news” has been widely used to discredit several websites the report certain matters that some powerful organizations deem unfavorable. For an online reporter such as myself, who has been covering a variety of topics for several years now, the people who have weaponized this term dangerously threaten the core values of journalism.
Probably the scariest aspect related to the conceptualization of this label is that fact that it was created during the time of the presidential campaign. During the weeks and months when various news agencies started reporting on both sides of the political sphere, the public became increasingly aware of the true characteristics of the two presidential frontrunners, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
This was, of course, considered fair especially since the people have the right to know more about the person they are supporting. However, things began to change after the scandals and controversies Clinton was involved in caught the attention of the public. From there, backers of the democratic bid, including tech giants that control online social media platforms, began to discredit anti-Clinton posts as “fake news.” In turn, articles that reported on Trump’s plan for the country and what he can do to develop it were suddenly labeled as propaganda material produced by so-called blind followers.
Eventually, the political discussions surrounding the election became extremely polarized and the journalists who published their reports based on factual evidence became the villains. They were labeled as propagators of “fake news.”
Due to the large influence of Clinton’s supporters, they were able to easily manipulate that public to believe which reports are credible and which aren’t. Just this month, Facebook, one of the most widely used social network, ramped up its crusade against “fake news” by working with fact-checking bodies in order to weed out articles that are against its own political preferences.
For journalists like me who still continue to report on what is truly happening with the people and organizations in power, efforts to control news content is a form of persecution. But aside from discrediting and publicly shaming those who still choose to report on actual current events, the efforts to label as fake news deprives the public from accessing information.