Since time immemorial governments have sought to control the flow and scope of all news and information that the general public get to access and hear. This trend is and has been driven by the fact that information is power, so who controls the channel to the information fields that power All government bodies have an official news agency that disseminates news and information according to the whims and views of that government. These agencies are used for spreading propaganda, misinformation and fake news to the general public and paint a rosy figure of the powers that be, regardless of the real situation on the ground. This is in an effort to boost popularity and creates sycophancy among the masses. This enables the officials to remain in and retain the power over a pacified public. This is more so in authoritarian regimes, controlled by dictators and despots who rule their countries with an iron fist. This is the reason why a free press is deemed to be essential in a free and democratic society. The free press has the constitutional mandate of ensuring that the public gets unlimited access to verifiable news, a platform to air their opinions and a fair conveyor of news who doesn't play favorites.
Sadly it's not only the dictatorships or despots that seek to control the news. Democratic regimes also dabble in this campaign of misinformation, propaganda and fake news to score a point or even lift up dwindling approval ratings. The USA and European powerhouses have been known to twist the news to favor their view. A good case would be the misinformation campaign against Iraqi Hussein and weapons of mass destruction carried out by American president George Bush and British prime minister Tony Blair that led to a destructive war on the Middle East country and hundreds of thousands dead. Since then the widespread use of social media has taken to task government attempts to control news and information. Recent 50 terror attacks like the mass shooting at a Las Vegas spawned a flurry of fake news with some officials trying to paint the attacker as anti-Trump and Democrat supporter whereas the opposite was found to be true, that he is a right-wing pro-Trump fanatic. The Westminster bridge attack also reeks of government manipulation and looks more of a drill, an attempt to instill fear among the masses through pro-government news agencies like cnn.com, Fox news and sky news networks. These are news agencies that tow the government line and are de facto national news agencies, only that the public now is more informed and wiser and simply put they don't care anymore.
Social media has been supplementing the flow of information from one locality to the globe and giving a third perspective from what we will be receiving from national news agencies and their proxies. The versatility of social media is such that fake news on social media are identified almost simultaneously as they are uploaded as the users in social media keep check on each other so it's not easy to lie to the general population and get away with it It has also offered a platform for discussion on issues and events affecting our societies. Most people nowadays can differentiate between Islam and terrorists. Social media has in context created awareness on our shared humanity and with it, we expect a more informed and properly empowered world in the near future.