The powerful fake news has come to the fore as one of the great threats of these digital times. But how do we contribute to them?
In 64 a great fire devastated Rome and the news spread that it was the emperor himself, Nero, who ordered the eternal city to burn. In turn, Nero fanned the hoax that those responsible were the Christians.
It is not the only example. From the existence of El Dorado, to the Libelos de Sangre, where Jews were accused of using human blood in their rituals, fake news has manipulated reality for the benefit of some.
Today, with widespread access to the Internet, fake news causes a considerable number of people to believe that the Earth is flat. Yes, it is false, but for those who believe it, it is true, act accordingly, seeing, feeling and living the world accordingly.
In addition, false news, hoaxes and rumors spread at breakneck speed on social media. They are powerful: they shake established democracies, public health or large companies.
Baudelaire, the great French poet, claimed that the devil’s greatest trick is to make us believe that he does not exist. The same goes for fake news.
No one admits that they are the victim of false news or even that they may be. Nor do we accept having participated in its transmission. Sure? What happens, then, when we take for granted that an office colleague has gotten a promotion just for being a friend of, I don’t know who or when we don’t doubt that our neighbor is a bad person because she does, I don’t know what.
If we look inside ourselves, we will detect those fake news that we decide to believe and from which, normally, we create a less harmonious world and with more doses of resentment. Let’s not forget that to believe is to create. That is, our beliefs create our realities and predispose us to act in one way or another.
In the information age there is the powerful concept of post-truth which, according to the RAE, is information that is not based on objective facts, but rather appeals to the emotions, beliefs or desires of the public. That is, sometimes we believe what we believe we believe. What emotionally we are prepared to believe. And we can ask ourselves: How does believing these lies benefit us emotionally?
Luckily, we can decide two things. Not believing everything they tell us and not spreading things that will not help us to be happier, as Socrates did more than 2000 years ago.
When they came to him with a hoax of the time, he asked three questions, the three filters of Socrates:
- Are you absolutely sure and without any doubt that what you are going to tell me is true?
- Is what you are going to tell me a good thing?
- Will it be of any use to me?
HOW TO FILTER FAKE NEWS
If what we want is to be alert to the avalanche of fake news that surrounds us, there are filters.
Like the one published by IFLA, the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, which recommends us:
- Study the source of the news and read beyond the headline.
- Find out who the author is and investigate additional sources.
- Check the publication date.
- Ask us if it is a
- Consider whether our opinion leads us to believe it.
- If we have suspicions about its veracity, ask one or more experts on the subject to find out.