Fake news are a common reality that is becoming a painfully familiar phenomenon on the frontier of broadcasts worldwide. The ensuing consequences of the publication of fake news are numerous and extremely painful both for the target of the news and the newsmakers themselves.
The war of words, justifications and accusations that follows the publication of a fake piece of news is utterly fruitless in the end, as neither of the parties involved will be able to prove or justify their points of view. It is therefore imperative to conduct proper fact-checking in the spirit of investigations to ensure the credibility of every piece of news being disseminated.
As horrifying as it may seem, but the darkest and most bestial pits of human nature are resurging in the information plain, forcing us to unwillingly recall the famous quote of Dr. Joseph Goebbels "Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth".
Despite the seemingly unstoppable and irrepressible nature of fake news, there are weapons capable of countering them. One of the main instruments in the arsenal of both private entities and authorities is the online medium itself, in which specialized tools can be used to track, trace, identify and neutralize both the sources of the fake news and their effects.
OSINT is the go-to solution for authorities seeking answers to investigating the emergence and origin of fake news.
Social Links helps investigate Open Source & Social Media & Darknet channels, helping interested parties understand who is behind the publication of fake news.
State Of War
The term information war has been in widespread use since the early 2000s, since the internet detracted the attention of people from TV screens. Since then, many areas of the information plain have changed with the eventual emergence of social networks. The process of working with people's opinions has also changed accordingly. It has since become possible to influence the opinions of the masses and make the process considerably cheaper.
The topic of fake information is recurring with the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and the surge of news regarding any number of topics related to it, ranging from the number of infected in a certain country to the origin of the virus. The deluge of fakes being published on official and seemingly reputable channels has become frightening and is turning into a heated fighting ring for governments seeking to contradict misleading information about their state of affairs.
When interviewed on the topic of the coronavirus pandemic, OSINT experts around the world have stated that the main point of interest during the spread of COVID-19 is fake news.
Industry experts have stated that the main topics currently being researched are fake news of a geopolitical nature, security breaches, and fake news related to COVID-19.
The top 3 trends related to the spread of COVID-19 are related to fake news, phishing, and video conferencing. The given trends have given rise to a powerful incentive for people to stop listening to news sources after the abundance of fake information being disseminated.
It has even been proven by a study that if some piece of fake news was reposted 8 times or repeated in 5-8 editions, then it is perceived as true. Dr. Goebbels rejoices. People start believing the lie, as it gains the hues of reliable information that is being talked about. This is the basis of human psychology that paves the ground for the information war to rage on.
The Lifecycle of a Fake
The basic lifecycle of fake news has long been determined and analyzed. In essence, it is a logical and consequential string of events that follows the given pattern:
1. Definition of the goal pursued by the news; 2. Audience selection; 3. Selection of people and accounts for the dissemination and start; 4. Determination of justification for dissemination and launch; 5. Native news pickup and viral marketing, reposts and publications snowball.
Such a series of events can be interrupted at some stages, however, given the nature of fake news and their authors, it is extremely difficult to identify and halt the string in a timely manner before the fake piece of news is released. Once the fake news is released, it is often meaningless to issue rebuttals, as the social media and news channels instantly spread the news and solidify it in the minds of audiences as the truth.
The Countering Tools
Just as the tools for releasing fake news have developed, so have the instruments needed to counter them. In fact, both the authorities and media channels have a solid arsenal of tools that they can refer to in combatting the spread of fakes.
The first are monitoring systems that highlight specific topics or keywords in such news and provide analytics based on the number and tonality of mentions of the objects of interest. At this stage, it is important to identify and detect the changes and deviations in the data stream to be certain that a fake news has been released for timely countering.
After the news has been identified, it is already possible to use the method of feedback analysis and reverse promotion to see which resource the fake news was released on, and even identify the authors at times by determining the original disseminating account.
After having identified the resource, and maybe even the account of the disseminating entity, it is possible try to find real people behind it and take appropriate action.
Social Links has developed the methodology and instruments necessary for searching for those behind the dissemination of fake news and who they are registered to by domain, DNS servers, website, and personal accounts. Most of all fraudsters are caught on the basis of miscalculations on their part in the dissemination process string, and the extensive experience of the Social Links team states that sooner or later the miscalculation will take place.
It is literally enough for one email, phone number or some other parameter in the registration data to be entered, for example, when registering a domain or account, for the source of the fake news to pinpointed. Many of the disseminators have already been identified and caught based on the same algorithm of action.
The task of investigating fake news is very similar to the task of the fact-checking process undertaken by journalists. The recent Spiegel magazine scandal is one bright example, when the reporter of the publication literally invented all of his articles and facts for many years, and no one could catch him for lack of tracing or will to fact-check.
There is an understanding that the use of fake news has reached a global scale and is being applied at the country level for a very specific set of reasons. If earlier, these were methods of leading an unfairly competitive business for beating a competitor, artificially deflating prices and more, the dissemination of fake news has now turned into a method of manipulation and even blackmail at the country level used for putting pressure on "partners" to create the "necessary" public opinion about it.
That is why large companies and states can have no choice but to learn how to weed out seeds from chaff. They need to learn how to elicit such news and conduct open investigations and show the public all the ins and outs of the foul media business, revealing the whole truth.
We live in a digital age and it is impossible to deny the new frontiers of war and freedom to wage it that have been opened. Deleting accounts on social networks, not reading the media and not watching TV, of course, is incredibly difficult, but possible, and sometimes even more beneficial for health and psychological wellbeing.
But the question is whether it is worth it. Instead of shutting our eyes on the world and turning into secluded hermits, we need to develop critical thinking within our own minds, as everything needs to be questioned and verified. It is imperative to check, double check, triple check everything we read. And if, at the level of personalities, everyone does it or not, then at the level of companies and states, there must be a service that will do it on a daily basis.
This is where companies like Social Links come in and offer the necessary package of services for hindering the destructive effects that fake news have on individual perceptions of the world and the world itself.
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