Just because some news spreads quickly, it doesn’t mean that it’s true.
Gossip and rumours spread more quickly than the truth. Information that spreads most easily is information that is merely good at spreading quickly – news that is juicy, spicy, and piques our emotions. Truth, on the other hand, is nuanced and boring. It invariably falls behind.
Therefore, we are constantly surrounded by information that is interesting, but not true. If you care about knowing the truth, this is obviously a problem.
Has the internet caused this problem? No. The grapevine, gossip mongers, tabloids, and all manners of propaganda predate the internet. Most of them have been around ever since we invented language – our hunter gatherer ancestors often indulged in gossip. The internet has merely added rocket fuel to this problem by enabling the spread of sketchy information far and wide in the time it takes to click a button.
Fake news isn’t an internet problem – it is a human problem.