Did you hear the news about the Dalai Lama writing his own sitcom? How about the rogue planet Nibiru being on a collision course with Earth? Or the woman arrested for defecating on her boss’s desk after winning the lottery?
These stories have all been published on apparently legitimate news sites and spread by our favourite social networks over the last year. And they share one other thing in common too: they were all, of course, absolutely fictional.
Fake news is everywhere you look, from Miami reportedly introducing texting lanes on its motorways to the Pope purportedly endorsing Donald Trump for president. For the leader of the free world, “fake news” has even become a daily catchphrase.
With so much phony news kicking around, it can be hard to know what to believe these days. But if you’re worried about how to distinguish the real reporters from the bogus bylines, the true tales from the spurious stories, then fear no more. The Drum believes it’s time for an International Fake News Day to shine a spotlight on the web’s most cock-and-bull content. And we’re going to host it this Saturday – 1 April.
As part of the day’s activities, which you can join in with using the hashtag #FakeNewsDay, the most prominent and proficient proponents of fake news will be garlanded with their very own awards – The Fakers – to recognise their accomplishments in spreading alternative facts.
Donald Trump will no doubt be the bookies’ favourite to take home the coveted Lifetime Achievement Award, but other categories including Best State-Sponsored Story, Best Conspiracy Theory Reported as Fact and Most Outlandish Claim of the Year are bursting at the seams with potential victors.
Gordon Young, editor-in-chief of The Drum and founder of The Fakers, said: “Fake news has become one of the biggest talking points in media, politics and even down the pub. It is now so pervasive that it's become a real problem for readers, who are struggling to distinguish between fact and fiction, and mainstream news outlets whose credibility is being eroded by the mischief makers.
“The best defence against fake news is to make readers question everything they read, and that’s exactly what we’ll do on International Fake News Day, which happens to coincide with April Fool’s Day this Saturday.
“We also have to acknowledge that there is an undoubted talent required to craft compelling content – even when it’s fake. Stories like the one about the disgruntled ex-employee were shared millions of times online, demonstrating a remarkable skill for social media. By celebrating the fakers’ ingenuity, we will also be able to warn the public from ever believing a word they say again.”
In keeping with the spirit of International Fake News Day, we would like to invite you to make up your own categories and share with us who you believe the most deserving winners ought to be. You can do this by tweeting your suggestions to @thedrum with the hashtag #fakenewsday.
The winners will be announced by The Drum on Saturday. And that’s a fact.