The perception of university students on the diffusion of fake news on social media : a case of the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN).
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Fake news is a digital but also ethical issue, and it has been one of the challenges of the media for the past decade. Fake news is defined as news articles that are false by intention and whose goal is to mislead readers. The concept of fake news is not new. For a long time false information has been used by parties to turn the population against other opposing parties. However, since the 2016 American elections, the amount of fake news disseminated has increased significantly. The Internet is playing a huge role in the broadcast of information, but it creates a danger to individuals and societies because it is a perfect platform for propagating fake news and other false information. The fact that the internet provides anonymity has given anyone the ability to launch a website and make it look authentic, including anyone with the intent to cause harm. It is uncertain as to what extent students in South Africa (SA) are aware of the concept of fake news being disguised as real news and diffused on social media. It is also hard to define the dangers that fake news presents to students in SA, in terms of their education, as well as the development of the country since they hold the future of the country in their hands. Hence, this study was aimed to investigate the perceptions of South African students on the propagation of news on social media. The objectives of this study were achieved by using a descriptive design and quantitative methodology to collect and analyze data. Questionnaires were distributed to a total of 370 students, but only 362 questionnaires were valid to be analyzed. The analysis was carried out using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS). The results showed that the students indicated that they trust their social media platforms as news sources. They also indicated that they can recommend them to their friends, but also that they can consider acquiring news from social media if they friends or family recommended them. The results also showed that students indicated that they trust the news they acquire from social media. Some of the respondents indicated that they would share news on social media if they were convinced of the credibility of the news. However, some of the respondents indicated that they would share interesting news on social media even if they are not sure of the credibility of the news. The perspective that students have on the security of social media applications is also presented in this study.