How fake news is being used to evade accountability

Anyone with the ability to Google knows that fake news is the passage of false information as news; where news is typically that information about a recent event passed from a reporter to an audience. Usually, the reporting of news has been through reliable trustworthy sources that go about gathering such news and relaying them to an audience through channels such as broadcasting.

When the Internet and particularly social media platforms such as Blogging and microblogging sites such as Twitter and Facebooking became so widespread to an extent that anyone with the access to the Internet could use them to tell a story, the proliferation of fake news began. At its creation, fake news started simply as click bait articles with satire content, but opinion shapers found the loophole and started creating false stories and passing them as reliable news, at times using mainstream media to pass said information.

With the 2016 US Presidential Elections pitying Donald Trump against Hillary Clinton, the use and the talk of Fake News became widespread, where not only was the rate at which fake news was propagated grew exponentially, but almost everyone online became aware of what fake news it. Then it was time to brand any disliked news as fake news. Today, the use of fake has grown to become a tool with which leaders evade accountability, and there are two ways they do this:

  1. Branding exposé as fake news
  2. Releasing an unpopular plan then branding it fake news when it backfires

Recently Dennis Okari of NTV ran an exposé on COVID-19, an exposé that would later be branded as fake news by some of those that were mentioned. They claimed that Dennis Okari did not do his homework well, and that his major informant was not credible. Lack of credibility aside, the exposé led to the Senate setting up a committee to investigate the allegations in the exposé.

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This idea of branding exposé as fake news usually tend to work. If we look at US politics as an example, we find Trump supporters disbelieving CNN, New York Times and other left leaning media outlets, simply because President Trump has constantly branded them as Fake News. This type of branding has helped Donald Trump escape accountability for inaction such as as not putting in place measures to deal with coronavirus in time. Him blaming the democrats for his inaction still go unscathed because his followers believed his branding of exposés surrounding his inaction as fake news.

Then there is a trend where governments were want to implement unpopular policies. To check whether the citizens will be receptive to such policies, the governments may release a gazette notice, a memo, or a press statement informing the public of the expected implementation. On instances when the public become outraged usually through social media, the government will print onto the memo or press statement a Fake News label, and go ahead to say that it is not the government that issued it in the first place, but some Internet user whose intention is to mislead the public by concocting false stories.

In the absence of the Fake News tag, the governments could be more careful on the information they want to share with the public, hence become accountable for wrongfully shared information. Fake News however allows them to relabel any news that has not been well received by the citizens as fake news.

Odipo Riaga
Managing Editor at KachTech Media
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