2018 – 7th Grade National 3rd Place Winner

Martha Duncan, Missouri.

Let’s face it. Lies can be much more entertaining that truth. As Mark Twain once said, “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” When we find something intriguing, we will pass it along so the next person can get the same reaction out of it. Sometimes we unknowingly pass along lies and deceive. In doing this, we impact society.

Veles…a river town in Macedonia. It once made porcelain for most of Yugoslavia, now churns out fake news stories. Over 100 websites were tracked to Veles at the close of 2016. These sites grabbed the attention of lots of readers. How? Through social media.

Fake news authors post a lot of their media on social media platforms. In a digital world, both truth and deception are woven into the web, so most posts on these platforms won’t be detected as fake news and will not be shut down. The two-thirds of Americans who get some of their nws from social media platforms are easy to hook. Sensitive about their politics, shocking headlines spark an abundance of emotions. What better to do with emotions than share them with friends and family? Thus the fake news chain begins.

In order to cook up an identity that will not be terminated by the social media platforms, producers of fake news will purchase real accounts on the black market. With these accounts, they can make accounts for their pages, as well as fake personal accounts that share the author’s fake news with the account’s ‘friends.’ These accounts can have lots of followers, some getting into the millions, giving the fake news producers more and more regular readers.

Why would someone dedicate their life to creating deception? Money. The authors of the fake news can earn USD$2,500 a day from advertising, a lot of money, especially in a country where USD$435 is the average monthly income. Every click on a link to the website contributes to that. Whether the story sparks rage in a reader or aligns with the reader’s beliefs, the authors don’t care as long as they click on the link, or even better, share it.

‘Bill Clinton loses it in an interview—admits he’s a murderer’ or ‘Woman arrested for defecating on boss’ desk after winning the lottery.” These are just some examples of the ridiculous fake news out there. Yet people believe these stories. Why? The stories stir emotions. Whether the headline inspire rage or make a reader laugh, they grab a chunk of the reader’s attention. Whatever it is the reader was doing or were planning to do, it cuts a bit of time out from that activity and replaces it with time spent reading the article. Most true stories are not quite as good as grabbing attention as the outrageous fake stories fabricated by these fake news authors.

We cannot deny it. The unbelievable lies fabricated to please its receiver are more successful than truths, even though the truths are what align with facts we know about our world. Unsurprisingly, all of this deceit travelling around the world has a tremendous impact on society, much greater than the truth, which moves much slower around the world.



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