The Macquarie dictionary has announced its 2016 word of the year: ‘fake news.’
This term came to prominence in 2016, referring to websites that deliberately published disinformation — often then promoted on social media.
One such site published a story about a German town’s oldest church being burnt down by refugees on NYE.
Except it wasn’t the oldest church, and it didn’t burn down. A firecracker landed in some scaffolding while some refugees happened to be celebrating nearby.
ABC’s Media Watch summarised why fake news has such a power to be believed: “We love to hear things that confirm what we think and what we feel and what we already believe. It makes us feel very comforted.”
And this is exactly the premise behind these stories.
While the use of social media has seen these stories gain a widespread footing, the spread of false or misleading stories is not a new phenomenon.
People have always loved to hear lies that confirm what they already believe.
In the first book of the Bible we read that when the serpent whispered to Eve that she would become like God, and that she would not surely die, both Adam and Eve believed. They believed because this is the truth they wanted to hear.
Humanity craves autonomy from God and it is comforting to think that there are no consequences. But it is a lie.
The environment that has led the rise of fake news is that of our “post truth” world, (the 2015 word of the year!)
When two stories vary dramatically in the events which they report the question used to be “which one is true?”
But that question is rapidly becoming irrelevant. Truth itself is becoming irrelevant.
But only truth will bring salvation.
Jesus not only speaks truth but is himself truth to our world. His good news is the only antidote to the fake news of sin.
Christ also brought you the truth, which is the good news about how you can be saved. Ephesians 1:13