Fake news is a term that is thrown around almost daily. President Donald Trump has tweeted out the words “fake news” and/or “fake media” five times in the past six days. In particular, BuzzFeed News has four full pages for stories that contain the tag “fake news” just from the past 10 months. So what does BuzzFeed have to say about it?
BuzzFeed News has covered the effect of fake news on the election and on the American people, as well as how Trump categorizes fake news and attacks the media. With straightforward and unbiased news stories, BuzzFeed News comments on the landscape of fake news. For example, following Trump’s Press Conference February 16, BuzzFeed News posted an article “Trump Attacked The Media For Running “Fake News” During A Combative Press Conference.” Although some strong word choices appear in the headline and throughout the story, they are not false words. Trump did attack the media, Trump did “force” the point that the media publishes fake news and he did day things that were “unbelievably grandiose,” no matter where you fall on the political specturm.
My favorite piece regarding what BuzzFeed News has to say about fake news is a data-driven piece from November, “This Analysis Shows How Viral Fake Election News Stories Outperformed Real News On Facebook.”
The article outlines that BuzzFeed analysists found that people interacted with the top fake news stories during the election on Facebook more often than the top news stories from 19 major media outlets combined.
“During these critical months of the campaign, 20 top-performing false election stories from hoax sites and hyperpartisan blogs generated 8,711,000 shares, reactions, and comments on Facebook. Within the same time period, the 20 best-performing election stories from 19 major news websites generated a total of 7,367,000 shares, reactions, and comments on Facebook.”
When I found this article, I was thrilled. BuzzFeed News is often given a hard time about being a serious news source. However, BuzzFeed hires top-notch journalists and Pulitzer Prize winners; It is a site to be taken very seriously. I loved that BuzzFeed exposed fake news and its readers. The piece also served as a call to action for Facebook to step up and combat fake news. Journalism exists to inform and evoke change. This piece accomplished both.
Further, BuzzFeed also does a good job making the idea of fake news relatable and poking fun at it. It recently published a quiz “If You Get 3/7 On This Quiz You’re Getting Sucker Punched By Fake News,” which is both comical and sad. BuzzFeed knows its audience likes a good laugh, and that they tend to turn to the site for lighter, easy-to-read news. So, by playing to that strength, the site was able to shine a light on the craziness of the world and make sure people are in tuned into what’s going on around them. Very creative and informative! (Fun fact: all the stories were true.)
It is important to note, however, that BuzzFeed recently came under fire for publishing a Trump intelligence report that alleged that Trump has “deep ties” to Russia.
By publishing the reports, many ethical questions came to surface about the news site and accused the site of pushing out fake news.