How the Rise of Fake News Started
"Fake news"—hoax websites, dramatic or shocking headline links written primarily to get people to click on them, deceptive images, poor reporting and misinformation—has been portrayed by the mainstream media as a new problem that exploded in recent months, largely due to social media, political bias, and the election. But fake news actually dates back to the 1950s—with the UFO craze—and its rise began, at least in part, with the alternative medicine movement in the Western World—long before Twitter and online ad programs.
Some "fake news" is conspiracy focused—involving actual research and reporting, but designed to lead the reader/listener to a certain conclusion. Other "fake news" is driven solely by profit and contains very little research or reporting. This type, which often relies on shocking headlines and altered images to generate clicks and shares—boosting revenue, stems from alternative health sites that developed in the 2000s. Alternative health sites developed out of paranoia and mistrust surrounding government organizations like the CDC, big pharma, vaccination programs, GMOs, etc.
Fake health news can be especially dangerous—articles may be based in quackery and often are designed to sell supplements and other alternative treatments. These sites include Mercola and Natural News, which cover pseudoscientific health topics and present information that may be unreliable while selling alternative medical products. Producers of these sites claim the "fake news" narrative pushed by the mainstream media is undermining their efforts to provide alternative news to health care consumers.
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