Fake news works on our emotions, usually by stoking our fears or confirming our biases. Real news relies on verifiable facts, including emotions only by attributing them to credible sources, and placing those emotions in context. We help spread fake news when we let our emotions guide our reactions, rather than taking a minute to think about the credibility of the source.
Even with a mountain of evidence available to disprove a rumor, some people not only express support for it in polls but also believe it to be literally true. As more Americans turn to social media, consciously or otherwise, to get their news, exposure to the least reputable and most outlandish “news” sources will continue to rise. Fact-checking after these wild rumors circulate is only minimally effective. Social media companies have devised creative solutions to many problems over the years. If they cannot find ways to stem the flow of unverified, blatantly false information disguised as news, political discourse is likely to get worse before it improves. —The Week