Navigating an Immersive Narratology: Factors to Explain the Reception of Fake News

Navigating an Immersive Narratology: Factors to Explain the Reception of Fake News

Bradley E. Wiggins (Webster Vienna Private University, Austria)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/IJEP.2017070102
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Abstract

In direct response to the rise in fake news as a socio-cultural and political phenomenon, this article presents an analysis of the factors that may help to explain the reception of fake news. In addition, recent pronouncements made by the Trump White House seem to challenge the nature of an objective truth. An immersive narratology emphasizes that different universes of discourse can intermingle and overlap, with fact and fiction becoming difficult to distinguish in our increasingly mediated lives. A tenable definition of fake news is offered prior to exploring historical antecedents of fake news. Persuasion, construction, immersion, distribution, and polarization represent the core factors that demystify the reception of fake news regardless as to whether an individual believes a story. A concluding discussion offers a critical evaluation of the potential of fake news to augment the news media landscape in the coming years.
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Difficulties In Discerning Real From Fake

Recently, several studies have provided strong evidence that college students as well as adults in the general population fail at discerning real from fake news. According to a study conducted by Ipsos (Silverman & Singer-Vine, 2016), a majority of survey respondents who indicated their recall of a specific news story (which was actually fake, such as when Pope Francis endorsed Donald Trump or that an FBI agent linked to Hillary Clinton’s email leak was found dead), indicated further that the same news stories were somewhat or very true. Another recent study conducted at Stanford (2016) demonstrated that students from middle school to college are unable to judge the credibility of news stories shown to them. The lead author of the study, Sam Wineburg summarizes the conclusions by stating in an interview that it falls to educators “to teach them [students] how to thoughtfully engage in information seeking and evaluating in a cacophonous democracy” (McEvers, 2016). However, if we view the individual as merely a conduit for sharing or commenting on fake news online, as suggested above, we may assign responsibility to the social network to undertake measures to thwart the spread of fake news. Indeed, Facebook recently announced plans for an increased filtering system aimed at identifying and removing so-called fake news. According to a recent four-step plan Facebook has presented (Mosserri, 2016), users will be able to mark a given post as suspicious which will then be sent to “a group of outside fact-checkers” for a determination to be made as to whether or not the news story qualifies as fake (Farber, 2016).

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