The spread of hoaxes is accelerated by the Internet, as well as by other advances in telecommunications, and is part of media frenzy
Hoaxes are part of deceptive news, which may be misleading or even harmful, especially when they are disconnected from their original sources and contexts. The spread of hoaxes is accelerated by the Internet, as well as by other advances in telecommunications, and is part of media frenzy. Hoaxes depend on emotions and unfounded beliefs, rather than scientific data and logical thinking (Chang & Gershwin, 2005). Hoaxes are for instance present as fake reviews on product websites and about manipulative statements of celebrities and politicians (Li et al., 2012; Gupta et al., 2013). There are three reasons for why hoaxes happen. The first reason is misinformation; the text is conveyed in the honest but mistaken belief that the relayed incorrect facts are true (Kumar et al., 2016). The second is disinformation; false facts are conceived in order to deliberately deceive or betray an audience (Hernon, 1995; Fallis, 2014).The third is called bullshit, which is to convey a certain impression of one’s self (Frankfurt, 1986).
Today, almost everybody can use the Internet to hoax or fake the news. Social Medias are open, access to them belongs to users in the world, and they have a potential to address millions of users and possible future customers. Social media content can be relayed among users with no significant third-party filtering, fact-checking, or editorial judgment, so an individual user with no track record or reputation can in some cases reach as many readers as can Fox News, CNN, or The New York Times (Allcott & Gentzkow, 2017). Part of hoaxing is the use of fake profiles by malicious users to present themselves as fictitious or real persons (Krombholz et al., 2012).
Hoax or fake news can easily spread, reach, and influence the greater world audience in a relatively short time. Within minutes or hours, a hoax from a lone tweet or badly sourced report can be a story repeated by dozens of news websites, generating thousands of shares, and may gradually find its true quality, as repetition by a critical mass has a powerful effect on belief; it then becomes true for readers simply by virtue of its ubiquity (Silverman, 2017). Probably one of the best cases is a case study of faulty or fraudulent research relating to DDT. The chemical compound has saved more human lives than any other in history, but was banned by order of one man, the head of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the worldwide effect of which has been millions of preventable deaths (Edwards, 2004).
Hoaxes can be verbal or non-verbal; Hoaxes are spread publicly by malicious users to reach a worldwide audience for an attacking or deceptive purpose; Hoaxes attack or deceive others on the basis of dangerous topics or false facts, such as gender, ethnic origin, religion, or manipulative statements about celebrities, politicians, and fake profiles; Repeatedly shared hoaxes powerfully affect belief, to the extent that they then become true due to their virtual omnipresence or ubiquity.