The Impact of Fake News on Consumers

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Fake news is a report characterized by sensationalized, inaccurate, and misleading content whose primary goal is to misdirect, gain undue attention, and deceive both the target audience and spoil reputation for those under attack by the peddled propaganda. Contrary to misinformation, which could be as a result of confusion on the part of the reporter, fake news in advertently created to cause the intended harm or manipulate the thinking of the recipients. Research has shown that when fake news is about controversial topics like influential politicians, conspiracy theories, or it is in congruence with what the direct audience hopes to be true; then it will spread faster than usual; and despite the release of real news to counter the effect; little impact can be realized to normalize the situation in real time effect (Doshi, Raghavan, Weiss, & Petitt, 2018). In this twenty-first century, where innovation has gained pace, technological inventions have escalated, and globalization has increased its effect on the mainstream segments of life like the economic, political, cultural, and religious arena; fake news has become a severe problem to deal with. Moreover, the discovery and use of the internet at an affordable cost has given a chance to 65 percent of people across the world to connect with billions of people online and share any information that has not to be censored (McDermott, 2016).  The spread of false news has been made possible by social media, for instance, Facebook and Tweeter, both of which are readily available communication platforms to launch on the World Wide website. On the one hand, people create and propagate fake news to achieve social and political short and long-term goals. On the other, fake news is essentially reproduced to produce economic fortunes, because the information around the content, whether on medical issues or educational gains, is sensational, emotional, and witty enough to compromise the sobriety of the target audience; and hence without reason people will commit to paying some amount with an unrealistic anticipation to gain from the misleading information. Fake news is a threat to national security, primarily when used by terrorist organizations or antigovernment agencies; because it can lead to populous dissent in the country, mistrust for the government, and shape a public opinion that is not in unison with the state of the nation (Silverman, 2016). Furthermore, because fake news spreads faster than real news, the propaganda engineered through falsehood creates a buffer in the conscience of the target audience, such that real news reaches out to the already compromised audience which is not receptive. To exhaustively explore the contentious yet controversial topic of fake news; it is not only critical to discuss what “Fake News” means but also imperative to examine what implications it has for fake news consumers.

Background Information

Fake news compromise people to reason based on ideological lines rather than logic and research by Doshi et al. (2018)reveals that both the Americana and the Canadian societies have been adversely polarized by disinformation.  Fake news in most cases leads to bias and unconsciousness in thoughts, hence the motivated reasoning that is founded on sentiment and emotion among affected people (Crate, 2017).  Partisan predisposition and ideologies that cannot be justified are fundamentals that propel disinformation, and it is unfortunate that most people choose to believe such sources of propaganda at the expense of real news from certified mainstream media houses.

The digitalization and hence the fragmentation of the media landscape and the news dispensation frameworks has not only proved problematic to the  American society but also a critical challenge for many countries, especially the upcoming democracies in the Middle East and continental Africa (Silverman, 2016). According to McDermott (2016), 80 percent of Americans depend on internet-based communication platforms and hence get their news online, and 54 percent of Americans, as well as 61 percent of the UK citizenry, get their mainstream news from social media, a phenomenon that has served as a significant conduit for the propagation of fake news. Therefore, technology has worked to the disadvantage of media houses and free press and left most Americans to be taken advantage of by those who perpetuate disinformation. Thus, social media, internet, and ideological thinking are the instruments that have majorly facilitated the creation and propagation of fake news.

It is unfortunate that there seems to be no practical or immediate solution to the creation, spread, and effects of fake news in society.  Despite the coming together of stakeholders like Google, Facebook, tweeter, and Silicon Valley, little has been achieved to mitigate the problem (Botei, 2017).  From the stakeholders’ point of view, mechanisms like the Tweaking logarithms used by Facebook and Google can only achieve partial ramification for spreading of fake news. On the contrary, American experts of mass media and communication have argued that the real solutions to combat the issues surrounding social media outlets and bogus information lie in the hands of the consumers of such disinformation (Martin, 2018). The targets of fake news, and thus those who take in such content as realistic news out to develop with insight and skeptical thoughts, such that they appreciate, recognize and embrace the need for assessing the quality of information before consuming such content as certified news.  Other than receiving training on subjects like media literacy and information filtering to discriminate between fake and real news, consumers have an individual task to also critique their personal cognitive biases, to reduce the probability of falling prey to disinformation. However, the situation could get worse if no efforts are made by responsible stakeholders to mitigate the challenge of fake news; as the volatile politics, polarized and tribal culture, as well as highly ideological beliefs has become pertinent to the present day society because of false news.

Implications of Fake News on Consumers

Fake news can entirely polarize and destroy the culture, traditions, beliefs, social codes, and peace of the society. It has been confirmed by Silverman (2016) that when elections are held in the US, over 1000 media outlets for fake information and propaganda news are developed in every state. The news passed across is often sensational and biased, so that it appeals to the sentimental and emotional centers of the consumers, and later manifest in their irrational physical actions like social unrest (Rodny-Gumede, 2018). People end up psychologically psyched up for social confrontations and political intolerance which characterizes the audience. In countries where ethical and tribal lines are part of the mainstream culture, people develop enmity because fake news easily sparks intertribal feuds on lines of political affiliations. For instance, in the course of the 2016 American presidential elections, the supporters of the Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton believed that she was rigged out in favor of President Donald Trump by the Federal Republic of Russia (McDermott, 2016). On the contrary, the ardent supporters of the Republican Party were against such sentimental and ideological fake content. Consequently, there were an evidenced political mass confrontations on the American streets, as people could not listen to the real information from the mainstream media, which had lost it to the tens of thousands of fake news media outlet already established and accessible on social media (Rodny-Gumede, 2018). A similar case happened in the gubernatorial elections in Jakarta, Indonesia, when part of the electorate kept reciting the slogan “If Mr. Baswedan loses the election, there will be a Muslim Revolution”, just because fake news indicated that the latter would be rigged out in favor of his competitor (Rodny-Gumede, 2018). Therefore, fake news often led to a polarized society, and the situation could be worse where political inclinations are founded on religious, ethnical, and tribal lines.

Apart from weakening social bonds and triggering intolerance in religion and tribe, fake news can bring about tension on international relations.  In 2017 for instance, allegations were made by the state of Qatar that its twitter handle had been hacked by the Arab Gulf under the support of the US government, as a strategy to foster the American foreign policy that seeks to destroy the Iranian nuclear arsenal (Silverman, 2016). The fake news was quickly identified as disinformation. Nevertheless, despite the release of a real news statement to counter the phony news, much international harm had already been caused, as the neighboring countries (American allies) like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain had previously isolated Qatar on diplomatic grounds. Therefore, fake news can breed a disastrous escalation between two or more countries, which could lead to military confrontations. Hence the adverse effects of counterfeit news on an international scale.

Fake news has the potential to destroy the reputation and make relationships fail for individuals, celebrities, or political figures. If a fake statement is released to the public that a particular political icon, whether a minister, governor, or senator has committed a significant scandal, and before real information could be confirmed to offer facts, enough harm could already have been caused, and the political career of such a politician would be in jeopardy. Businesses can also lose fortunes because of propagation of fake news. For instance, in 2016, 23 percent of jewelry stores in the US and Europe made losses of 3.7 percent margins because there was a rumor on social media that genuine diamond had been replaced by fake Chinese made diamond (Rodny-Gumede, 2018). Indeed, fake news has the power to bring down business organizations, political organizations, or in entirety soil the reputation of individuals in society.

Impacts of Fake News on Democratic Institutions in the US Government

According to Doshi et al. (2018), since president Trump assumed office, the American presidency has undergone extreme degeneration than what was experienced for the immediate past five administrations combined, because of the effect of the fake news and propaganda peddling. Institutions like the CIA, the FBI, and the judiciary have been compromised in equal measure, just like the white has been tampered with regarding reputation. Indeed, president Trump cannot in entirety be condemned for the escalating effects of fake news in the country, because the American social fabric is defined by the freedom of speech and free press, as well as a culture of tolerance for diversity in opinions (McDermott, 2016). Instead, all responsible stakeholders at the state and federal government level, as well as the religious partners and the private sector should combine effort in confronting the adverse effects of disinformation in the country. The president nonetheless can be blamed in part for propagating fake news, considering that president Trump made allegations that hundreds of thousands of fake voters participated in the 2016 presidential elections and that the electoral system had been tampered with (Botei, 2017). Barely five days old in the white house, such allegations significantly weakened the American voting system, because president Trump put the American presidential legitimacy at stake by claiming that massive irregularities characterized the elections. On the contrary, an expert report released one month later would confirm that the tampering with the American elections in 2016 was negligible (McDermott, 2016).  When the president was 100 days old in the white house, he claimed that the outgoing president Obama`s administration had wiretapped his Trump Towers, an allegation that lacked evidence and was later debunked by both the republicans and the democrats. Fake news from the president of the nation meant the most trusted and hence the fundamental political fabric of the American national security as a mature democracy in the world was at stake. Americans wondered if the president could be taken literary for what he said or otherwise, which was catastrophic for the commander of the most nuclear power on the planet (Rodny-Gumede, 2018). Therefore, fake news immensely weakened the reputation of the white house, the CIA, and the judiciary. For not less than 22 times, president Trump has referred to the legitimate US media houses as “organizations of fake news,” on Twitter, and many more times in his speeches; a stance that has compromised the freedom of the press since then (Botei, 2017). Indeed, the president as well has been quoted calling the media as the “enemy of the American People,” (Botei, 2017). Therefore, fake news is a serious problem that has significantly compromised the American independent initiations as well as the social fabric of the American people when it comes to transparency, accountability, verifiability, and expedition.

Impact of Fake News on Social Media

Fake news has had adverse effects on social media outlets, and despite the positive roles Facebook, Google, and Twitter were meant to effect in society; it is widely understood that social media is a platform for lies (Stecula, 2017).  Therefore, fake news has compromised technological advancements and made the inventors of social media look like a people who had ill motives for society. At best, fake news has compromised the freedom of communication and belittled the objective of a free and independent press (Flax, 2017). Social media has destroyed the social codes of communities, compromised the ethical uprightness in society, challenged the legitimacy of democratic institutions, and put at stake the foreign policies of most countries including the US; just because of it being used as the primary channel for propagating fake news.

Counter Arguments; Confronting Fake News Would Mean Censoring the Free Press

Fake news shapes the society, and it is part of the human culture. Hence it cannot be done away with without compromising the fundamental rights like free speech, access to diverse information, and freedom for expression. The challenge of fake news in America and the world over did not start amidst the controversial 2016 presidential elections in the US, but the problem has been around for millennia (Crate, 2017).  Apparently, the American government runs the risk of emerging as an arbiter of fake news because of the readily available and affordable tools like technology and internet to propagate misleading information, hence making ineffective the federal and state government policies on communication and certified information dispensation through both the social and mainstream media (Rodny-Gumede, 2018). Mainstream media houses in the UK, mainland Europe, Asia, and the US argued that the propagation of fake news was the core reason behind the failure of Hillary Clinton, the Democrat Candidate, to win against president Donald Trump (Stecula, 2017). The fake news rhetoric has therefore gained escalation among major information centers like Google, Facebook, and the Silicon Valley; partners whose mandate is to work toward achieving a restrictive online environment that curbs the spread of fake news.

Use of social media in the present age is what has escalated the subject of fake news. However, fake news and propaganda peddling have been around for a while; more extended than the invention of the print media (Botei, 2017).  Fake news is a menace that the American founding fathers discovered, developed policies in the mid-eighteenth century to censor it, and while some proposed the censoring of the mainstream media to tame fake news spread, most dissented against the opinion. The dissenting voices, who were the majority, argued that censoring fake news would create a conducive platform for those in government to be dictatorial, unlike when fake news is left to regenerate naturally and would be brought to a halt within time by the persistence of real news (Stecula, 2017). The same reason remains relevant in the modern age, as censoring fake news would mean the government will deny the American citizenry fundamental rights like the freedom of speech, the right to diversity in opinion, as well as the independent fact fetching opportunity to decide for oneself between what is right and wrong. Some Asian countries like North Korea and China have implemented the statutes that strictly limit the spread of fake news, and the impact has been significant interference with the fundamental rights of the people, for instance, freedom of expression (Stecula, 2017). Therefore, Americans are justified to face the consequences of fake news, because it has been part of the American culture for more than two centuries now. Instead, the government has to create and protect an environment that tolerates political, communication, religious, economic, and social diversity.

Most American founders worked as newspapermen and pamphleteers, for instance, one Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, and Samuel Adams; hence they understood the essence of a free and unregulated press. The constitutional amendments did once America gained impedance sealed the essence of the free press, for example, the First Amendment, and hence the protection of the Bill of rights (Stecula, 2017). Therefore, though a free and an uncensored media is a conducive environment for rumor mongers to operate, the benefits that come with free media are by far better than the challenges for both the government and the people that come with a restricted press. In most democracies in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, where media houses and the journalists have been gagged by government policies; failed states like Chat, Somalia, Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan are characteristic, which means restricted media destroys democracy (Stecula, 2017). Despite the unlimited freedom for the press, President Franklin Roosevelt once argued that “liberty of affronting, calumniating, and defaming one another” is the most dangerous phenomenon of a free press, and hence there is need to work with qualities like Knowledge, competence, Integrity, and Ability during the recruitment of the media personnel (Doshi et al., 2018). President Jefferson argued to the opponents of a free media in the US that, “it would be better to trust the court of public opinion, which is a representation of the people on the ground, than to dwell on the final judgments of a magistrate in the court of law who struggled with bias between falsehood and truth” (Stecula, 2017) . Therefore, fake news is a real challenge in America, but censoring the freedom of media houses and social media outlets is not an option for dealing with the problem.

How to Distinguish Fake News from Real News

There are multiple insightful tricks consumers of fake news can use while interacting with information online to overcome falling prey to disinformation. The formulation of the links or the URLs for such websites is essential to note. For instance, sites that end with “.com” are genuine, while those that end with “” have to be queried (Benedictine University, 2016). The “About US” segment is yet another element that should be critically assessed to discover fake news. Lack of genuine information about the mission and vision statements, as well as the leadership of the website and the “About US” section should raise worry about its legitimacy. Thirdly, lack of quotes and credible citations in the content indicates that the data cannot be justified, and hence such should most likely be considered as fake news. Dispensation of real news from genuine mainstream media houses often quote the primary speakers, experts, and cites data about the source of information (Benedictine University, 2016). Comments below the article or that piece of news could be fake news if more than 50 percent comments indicate it to be so. The world has become globalized, and people can share news within minutes. Therefore, if a fake quote is given or disinformation is propagated, most likely people will realize that the authenticity of such data is lacking. Finally, reverse image searching is fundamental to establish whether the information is fake or genuine. Right clicking on a picture gives an option of Googling it, and when this prompt is sought, and the image shows up on multiple media platforms, then there is a high likelihood that the information is fake (Benedictine University, 2016). Therefore, training the consumers of fake news on how to recognize and ignore such information whether online or in print media is fundamental to overcoming the spread of such compromised information.


Fake news refers to uncertified information produced by people whose main agenda is to cause panic, anxiety, fear, bitterness, or unbalanced psychological emotions in the target audience; with the anticipation of striking a political, economic, or social advantage. Fake news has been around for centuries, and it has polarized the cultural and moral ethics of many communities across the world. Fake news has the potential to compromise individual relationships, government foreign policy, and national security. Therefore, disinformation could trigger diplomatic failure and lead to military conformations. The propagation of fake in the news in the aftermath of the American 2016 presidential elections led to extreme consequences. For instance, the loss of dignity for the American presidency and independent institutions like the judiciary, the FBI, and the CIA became evident. Fake news also has had detrimental effects on social media and technology. Because most fake news content is channeled through social media, the world has regarded Facebook, Google, and tweeter as media of lies, yet the three have just been abused by malicious users. Despite the adverse effects of fake news, social media and mainstream media should not be censored because such a move by the government would mean free press, freedom of speech, and access to different opinions would be compromised, hence dictatorial regimes. Nevertheless, there are multiple certified mechanisms those who consume fake news can use to overcome falling prey to disinformation.


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Botei, M. (2017). Misinformation with fake news. The Transilvania University of Brasov. Series VII, Social Sciences, Law.; Brasov, 10(2), 133–140.

Crate, L. (2017). Fake News vs. Real News. Education Digest, 83(1), 4–7. Retrieved from

Doshi, A. R., Raghavan, S., Weiss, R., & Petitt, E. (2018). The Impact of the Supply of Fake News on Consumer Behavior During the 2016 US Election. SSRN.

Flax, P. (2017). Health Fake News; What To Look Out For. Retrieved from

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Rodny-Gumede, Y. (2018). Fake it till you make it: The role, impact, and consequences of fake news. In Perspectives on Political Communication in Africa (pp. 203–219).

Silverman, C. (2016). Viral Fake Election News Outperformed Real News on Facebook in Final Months of the US Election. Retrieved from -news-outperformed-real-news-on -facebook?utm_term=.kq3Zz2Wxa# .rbBZBjgdx

Stecula, D. (2017). The real consequences of fake news. The Atlantic. Retrieved from

August 21, 2023
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