Why are fake messages fake

Why is fake news spread?

Alina Darmstadt and Teresa Sündermann educate people with their project "Civic.net - Active against hate online" by the Amadeu Antonio Foundation. They are well versed in and uncover fake news. We asked them a few questions about this.

Fake news is a big problem on the internet. Why is it so important to educate everyone about it?

Alina: "Fake news" is intentionally used to describe incorrect information. The English term stands for "fake news". Fake news often looks like real news - especially on social networks. And are difficult to refute. The problem is that they exacerbate hatred of certain sections of the population. They are therefore poison for social cohesion. Often such false news is about immigration, asylum and crime.

Why do some people spread fake news?

Teresa: Fake news and lies are often spread by right-wing populist and right-wing extremist blogs and actors. They are deliberately scattered in order to stir up fear and hatred. Very often it is lies about asylum seekers, Muslims, Jews and other minorities. They keep telling negatively about these groups and thus build on the prejudices that already exist. Especially now in the pandemic, the aim is often to stir up anger against politicians and scientists.

The Amadeu Antonio Foundation works against misinformation and hatred on the Internet. What are you doing?

Alina: We talk to many people, organizations and initiatives and explain right-wing extremist internet strategies and the latest false news on the internet. We give many workshops and practice how to recognize false messages and how to counter them with arguments in the comment columns.

Have you ever fallen for a fake?

Teresa: Fake news can often not be seen at first glance. For example, many fake news sites want to give themselves the appearance of a reputable medium with real-sounding names. Or they copy the appearance of well-known media. Because we spend a lot of time on social media, we sometimes think “It can't be!” When we hear a message and get upset. Most of the time, however, we then start to research ourselves and check whether this is also true.

Where is fake news most common?

Alina: A lot of fake news, for example about the corona virus, is shared via messenger services such as WhatsApp and Telegram and spreads very quickly there. Also because I believe the sender more often that this message must be true. But you can also see a lot of unchecked information in the comment columns under YouTube videos or on Instagram.

One can assume that it is NOT fake news if many serious journalists at large media companies also report on it.