The Disconcerting Nature of the Potential Impact of Fake News on the 2016 Presidential Election
‘Fake News' is a term used to describe the phenomena where websites intentionally publish articles with incorrect information aimed at misleading, deceiving, and tricking readers. Usually, through the enticement of eye-catching titles or sensationalized messages, these sites bait readers into clicking on their websites in order to generate advertisement revenue through internet traffic.
This essay explores that phenomenon and the unexpectedly substantial role it played in the 2016 Election of Donald Trump. Particularly noteworthy is an article in 2016, from a website claiming: “Pope Francis shocks the world by endorsing Trump.”
The first primary source used in this analysis is written by a publication called WTOE 5 News. It is a “fantasy” news website, and has explicitly stated so in its own words, yet, this article received five times more engagement, on the popular social media platform Facebook, than any New York Times article of 2016. [Silverman] It is important to contextualize the scale of this article, in terms of reach and engagement as well as its overarching presence and possible influence in the minds of voters during the heated Election Campaign.
Utilizing the Toulmin method of analysis, the article can be deconstructed and more carefully inspected to provide greater insights into the implications of the message conveyed in the grand scheme. Beginning with Data, the article opens by mentioning that “News outlets around the world are reporting on the news that Pope Francis has made the unprecedented decision to endorse a US presidential candidate.” [Pope Francis]. This quote, obtained from the article provides readers with a false sense of verification and seemingly accurate data to proceed. The usage of the phrase “News outlets around the world” in particular provides a sense of accuracy and credibility. Most readers undoubtedly believe that if it is so widely reported, from many sources and many nations, it must be accurate and verifiable.
The warrant presented through this article is that the Pope has made an unexpected statement, a statement that is so sensational that it is worthy to listen to and abide by. This thesis is backed and supported by the exploitation of many faithful Christians and furthermore, this fabrication insinuates the feeling that since the revered religious leader is endorsing a certain candidate it would be unholy, even blasphemous to deviate and vote in other opposing direction.
However, there is the usage of qualifying vocabulary occasionally drizzled in the passage. Notably by the usage of the “hesitant” in the quote “I have been hesitant to offer any kind of support for either candidate” [Pope Francis]. The selection of the word ‘hesitant’ generally indicates some sort of restraint or careful consideration. This is in alignment with the description of a qualifier as per the Toul...