An overwhelming majority of UK cyber-security experts believe the UK to have been politically manipulated by fake news. New research from DomainTools claims that 91 percent of cyber-security professionals believe that fake news has had an effect on the UK's political landscape.
DomainTools polled more than 300 IT security professionals at this year's InfoSecurity Europe 2017.
Of those surveyed 28 percent felt that children were the most susceptible, closely followed by their parents and grandparents.
Moreover, 61 percent believed they have been personally affected by fake news. Given that statistic, noted Tim Helming, director of product management at DomainTools, "it is starkly clear that fake news is a significant phenomenon that needs to be properly understood and tackled.”
Looking beyond the site itself, added Helming, can greatly aid due diligence: “Fake news sites are often quite secretive about their ownership or origins. Going beyond the content of a site and learning more about the source itself can be an important way to combat the influence of fake news."
Source: DomainTools release
Fake news is increasingly being labelled as an existential threat to democracies as misinformation influences people's voting decisions. In December 2016, Alex Younger UK chief of the secret intelligence services called the proliferation of fake news, a "fundamental threat to our sovereignty."
While ‘fake news' has been around for as long as there has been news, the phenomenon has been amplified in political consciousness only recently with the rise of previously marginal political movements, figures and voices as well as fringe media outlets, such as InfoWars, finding large followings online.
One of the more notable pieces of ‘fake news' that ignited the imaginations of many was ‘Pizzagate'. A variety of fake news sites floated the theory that a Washington DC pizza restaurant called Comet Ping Pong, hosted a secret paedophilia ring run by former democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton. The conspiracy theory culminated in Edgar Welch walking into the restaurant with a semi-automatic rifle and firing it three times in an attempt to uncover the truth. He was arrested after he "found no evidence that underage children were being harboured in the restaurant."