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Title: Fake news: the role of search engines and website content
Authors: Weideman, Melius 
Keywords: fake news, website content, search engine algorithms, black-hat search engine optimization
Issue Date: 2018
Publisher: Limerick Institute of Technology
Conference: International Scientific Conference “Western Balkan information literacy” 
Abstract: The concept of fake news is quite old - a comic strip from 1894 shows journalists with a news item bearing this name. It can be loosely defined as being false (often sensational) information, appearing to be truthful news, being spread to influence public political or other views. Various generators of fake news have been identified - in almost all cases with a clear intent to misinform. Libraries, having always been a source of accurate and truthful information, are being pressurized into acting on this problem. The general perception (especially amongst the younger generation) that whatever the Internet says must be true, has not helped in this situation. The Trump election of 2016 has shown that social media (Facebook specifically) can be a popular and powerful platform for distributing fake news. Twitter has also been used to produce a false impression of a given situation, as used by the “Russian trolls”. Many free software programs have been identified, which can be used to generate large amounts of fake content in a very short time, based on supplied seed content. In all known cases, it was found that website content being generated has been at the centre of the fake news situation. This content generation could be done using ordinary web design platforms, any content management system, or as was done in most cases, using a popular social media platform. This is not a new phenomenon, as it has been done for many years in the world of black-hat search engine optimisation, to create “false” content in an attempt to impress the search engine algorithms. The way search engine crawlers and algorithms operate is at the centre of the fake news phenomenon. In conclusion, there seems to be no easy way of preventing fake news from reaching the consumer. This is a result of the ease with which website content can be generated and added to the Internet, and the lack of any gate-keeper function (for example, a librarian or editor) on webpages in general. The use of sentiment analysis should be investigated further in the striving towards finding a solution for this problem, as well as adapting search engine algorithms to spot fake news, as is currently being done to identify thin content, keyword spamdexing and other black-hat technologies
Description: Conference Proceeding
Appears in Collections:FID - Conference Proceedings

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