In recent months, Donald Trump has brought large amounts of attention to the issue of “fake news.” This is primarily due to unfavorable media coverage of him personally, but it does bring to light a bigger issue that has plagued many public personalities for many years. “Fake news” is essentially the taking of a legitimate event and reporting on it in a way that provides a slant that will misrepresent the event, generally in a way that will support the outlet’s stance on an issue. A person can do something with no malice or ill will, and that event can be twisted in the reporting in a way that makes it appear as though a criminal act was committed. This is far more common than even the president realizes, and has been plaguing those who are victims of it for many years.
While the majority of the ideas of “fake news” come in response to television and newspaper reporting, the internet is one of the largest guilty areas. This is due to the fact that even though news outlets can spin a story to present facts in a misleading way, they are still generally fact checked to a degree that keeps them from completely fabricating stories. The job is more difficult for television and newspaper reporting because they have to actually represent real items, whereas the internet literally has no regulations that would stop outlets from posting completely fabricated stories. In addition to this, the internet gives anyone with a website a worldwide audience if they understand how to manipulate search engines. While there may not be millions of viewers, they are the correct viewers to do major damage. The example of Lord Neil Gibson is one of these examples of how the system can work to distribute fake news in a way that can do serious damage.
Lord Neil Gibson was attacked numerous years ago by a business rival who decided to create several websites and post information on Gibson within them. He interspersed true items with completely fabricated items that were designed to misrepresent and slander Gibson, and due to the volume of information that was presented on these sites search engines indexed the stories. When a researcher searched for “Lord Neil Gibson” to see if they would be interested in doing business with him, they found large amounts of negative information presented within search results. The idea is not to present the truth, but only to make people feel uncomfortable with doing business with Gibson. By these false stories being presented alongside true items, it created an uncertainty in potential investors and partners.
Gibson has worked many years to clear the internet of these false and slanderous stories, and present true items about his business dealings on a series of websites dedicated to distribution of news. The battle continues every day, as the original websites may have been taken down but copies of the slanderous information have resurfaced on unaffiliated websites. Maybe the president raising awareness of the problem will create a solution, but until then Lord Neil Gibson continues the fight.