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Four Methods used in Fake News


Techniques Propaganda > Four Methods in Fake News

Negative lies | Positive lies | Uncertainty and doubt | Building status | See also


Fake news is often in the more truthful news and is of particular interest to those who find it useful for various means. In this, fake news can be considered as being 'information that may see plausible but contains significant factual errors.'

There are many other methods used by fake news and 'clickbait' headlines, such as making the message personal (eg. 'You will want to know this'). In general, though, we need to be constantly aware of fake news. If the people we tweet to reveal the falsehood, we can look foolish, so it makes sense to check our facts before passing things on.

Negative lies

Spreading negative lies about opposing individuals and groups increases their chance of failure as supporters believe the lies and abandon them, perhaps to avoid being tainted by the same brush. Negative lies act as a form of attack, seeking to diminish the other person and reduce their credibility and status. When we believe people lie, we conclude they cannot be trusted, and so we avoid any association with them.

Positive lies

Spreading positive lies about individuals and groups that you support increases their chance of success as people accept the fake news as truth. This is the reverse of negative lies: as you knock down opponents, you build up in parallel your own candidate (or yourself). In this way, the person you support becomes a direct replacement, filling the 'trust hole' that the departing person leaves behind.

Uncertainty and doubt

Creating uncertainty and doubt can lead to inaction as it leads people to be unsure of what to do (and so they do nothing). When we are uncertain about something we seek to restore certainty elsewhere. This is like the story of the drowning person clutching at straws. Just as we replace the opposing candidate with ours through the use of lies, we may replace uncertainty about the other person with certainty about our own candidate.

We may also use uncertainty to fend off criticism, for example by denying even what is obvious. Just a small seed of doubt can be enough to help your candidate wriggle off the hook of criticism as it provides a possibility of them being right.

Building status

Acting to build credibility and otherwise increase the social status of the spreader of the fake news can be very effective, for example by suggesting they have access to information that perhaps others do not. Status is a key indicator and source of power. As much status as you can give your candidate, the more power you effectively create for them.

See also

The Big Lie, Lying, Beliefs, Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD)


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