Thursday, 24 November 2016

'Fake news' is poison for the body politic – can it be stopped?




Vincent O'Donnell, RMIT University

If prescription drugs contained as much fake content as the news coverage of the 2016 US presidential election, there would be wide demands for government action. But, it was only news.

However, “fake news” can be as poisonous to the body politic as fake pharmaceuticals are to human life. Since the election, self-styled satirist and political disrupter Paul Horner has expressed his fears that his fake news elected Donald Trump.

Democracy stands on fragile pillars of trust, accountability and responsibility. Only when they are in place do citizens willingly consent to be governed. And by choosing to live in a democracy, voters undertake the responsibility to be informed and engaged.

Their representatives, in response, are accountable to represent the balance of electorate interests, but are not delegates – as Edmund Burke established in his Speech to the Electors of Bristol in 1774.
Our democratic edifice rests on the informed voter. Fake news is the concrete cancer gnawing away at the structural integrity of our society.

Facebook, to date, has been a principal metastasising agent. But finally, its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, has acknowledged that Facebook is part of the problem. He has committed the company to remedial action.

Facebook has become a news agency, not just a technology company: almost 40% of American adults get their news online.

But then, editorial algorithms can only be so smart.

Je suis satire


Fake news has many faces – some old and familiar, some the product of new technology and the social media revolution.

The first category, satire, has been with us since Aristophanes was in short skirts. It is a necessary and healthy part of a democracy. Modern satire is often based on fake news. Examples abound in theatre, on television and on the internet – The Onion and the Betoota Advocate being two among many. This hoax was a classic, and successful.

The second category of fake news is all about money.

BuzzFeed recently revealed that the Macedonian town of Veles was home to more than 100 websites churning out pro-Trump news. The site was run by young Macedonians with no interest in US politics, but who had every interest in exploiting the advertising revenue from their linkage with AdSense. This guaranteed them income from every page view of their imaginative takes, real or imagined, on events in the US presidential election.

A third and darker category manufactures misleading news for political purposes. Sometimes it simply serves the ideological agenda of a political party; sometimes it is malicious in its falsehoods, seeking to foment distrust and dissent. The far right is particularly adept at this, like the Breitbart attack on successful immigrants from the Middle East.

Criminal intent could be a fourth category. Such sites might use fake news as an initial hook, but are more likely to rely on avarice, greed, lust or loneliness to complete the deception.

How does fake news work?


Fake news works in the same way as effective propaganda.

First, every story begins with factual elements, names, places and events. This forms a connection to the reader’s experience.

The story then moves in directions that accord with thoughts and attitudes the reader has or is predisposed to accept. Thus the particular success of the fake stories with Trump supporters, whose distrust – or hatred – for Democrat Hillary Clinton was visceral.

The story then supports the revelations with facts that are consistent with the imagined events, places them in settings that are generally familiar but less known: foreign cities, small town America, or sleazy porn outlets. The report then corroborates the tale by naming authoritative witnesses or actors who have carriage of the events.

And, crucially, the report adopts the style, presentation and format of genuine news. And it doesn’t help when the mainstream media pick up a story without checking.

Collectively, these elements are going to make Facebook’s task of eliminating fake news extraordinarily difficult without knowledgeable human intervention.

Ways forward


First, there is no substitute for individual scepticism. As has been said about money deals on the internet: “If it seems too good to be true, then it’s certainly not”.

The second is advertiser pressure. Zuckerberg is not responding to fake news out of the goodness of his heart. Advertisers don’t want to be tarred with a fake news association – so, they are saying, “change things”.

The third is source. The established media are failing to capitalise on their source credibility. They have abandoned the check and recheck practices of old in favour of a first to publish, first to correct mentality. That can change.

Perhaps we will see the emergence of a white net, where publishers commit to accuracy above all else, and capitalise on something British thinker David Ricardo would recognise as their competitive advantage. Yes, it would rely on subscriptions, but it would leave all the rest to a free grey net – one that no-one trusts for news.

The Conversation
Vincent O'Donnell, Honorary Research Associate of the School of Media and Communication, RMIT University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

23 comments:

Unknown said...

Here we have the best collection of happy New Year 2017 wallpaper, images and picture for this happy New Year 2017. Here we have a beautiful collection of HD wallpapers. Dear friends we all are waiting for New Year 2017 and we will leave 2016 with our sweet memories. You can checkout my blog Happy New Year Wallpapers
for all other latest updates.

Framaroot APK Download said...

Here we have the best collection of happy New Year 2017 wallpaper, images and picture for this happy New Year 2017. Here we have a beautiful collection of HD wallpapers. Dear friends we all are waiting for New Year 2017 and we will leave 2016 with our sweet memories. You can checkout my blog Happy New Year Wallpapers

Download WhatsApp
Download VIdmate Free
Download Mobogenie APK
SnapChat For Computer

HealthOffSet said...

Here we have the best collection of happy New Year 2017 wallpaper, images and picture for this happy New Year 2017. Here we have a beautiful collection of HD wallpapers. Dear friends we all are waiting for New Year 2017 and we will leave 2016 with our sweet memories. You can checkout my blog Happy New Year Wallpapers

Qr Code Scanner Android
Kingroot APK

Somnath Brahma said...

Thanks a lot for sharing this great resource. I really appreciate your work and I will recommend this site to my fellow colleagues and friends.
You can check out my blog and I want to wish you all a very Happy New Year 2017
in advance.

Anjali Sharma said...

New Year is the best event for everyone so celebrate this New Year 2017 with us and send some wonderful and awesome New Year Wishes, Greeting, Quotes and many more for your Love ones.
New Year Wishes 2017

Gube said...

I couldn't agree more fake news is a slow poison affecting the base of our society. There are however many genuine work from home opportunities that are posted on our website. Here is a list of the latest blog posts about making money online.

Earn Money Online – 7 Tips

4 Easy Ways To Make Money With Google

6 Startup Ideas for 2-5 Lakhs

اوائل المثالي said...

شركة عزل اسطح بالدمام
شركة عزل اسطح بالخبر
شركة مكافحة حشرات بالدمام
شركة مكافحة حشرات بالخبر
شركة كشف تسربات المياة بالدمام
شركة كشف تسربات المياة بالخبر
شركة تنظيف مجالس بالدمام
شركة تنظيف مجالس بالخبر
شركة تنظيف سجاد بالدمام
شركة تنظيف سجاد بالخبر
شركة تنظيف بالدمام
شركة تنظيف بالخبر
شركة تسليك مجاري بالدمام
شركة تسليك مجاري بالخبر









Alice Taylor said...

Thanks for sharing this valuable information to our vision. You have posted a trust worthy blog keep sharing

cat mario | whatsapp baixar |  tank trouble |

Rihan Roy said...

This blog is a great source of information which is very useful for me.

IPL 2017 Auction Telecast
IPL Opening Ceremony 2017 Date, Tickets, Venue
Champions Trophy 2017 Schedule

Chinna kp said...

Fake reporting or selective reporting?
Zenfone Review Try it Yourself »

Chinna kp said...

Fake reporting or selective reporting?
Zenfone Review Try it Yourself »

Anonymous said...

I love it. I hope that more and more Blogger will use this feature in the future, because it just makes the internet better I think!

ICC Champions Trophy 2017 Live Tv
ICC Champions Trophy 2017 Ball By Ball Commentary

Sports Waale said...

thanks for the post Ipl 2017 Tickets
Ipl 2017 Ticket Sale
Vivo Ipl 2017 Matches
Ipl 2017 Time Table
Ipl 2017 Date Venue

Prince said...

Transforming India
Startup india
Employee provident fund
Swachh bharat mission
suggestions for railway

tanki online said...



The blog or and best that is extremely useful to keep I can share the ideas
of the future as this is really what I was looking for, I am very comfortable and pleased to come here. Thank you very much.
tanki online | 2048 game| tanki online game

Anonymous said...

Sony Max live
Sony Max IPL live
IPL Live 2017
Vivo IPL 10 Live
IPL live setmax

Kangana Ranaut said...

I appreciate your efforts in preparing this post. I really like your blog articles.
goodnight message for her

allgovtsjob said...

Srh Vs Rcb live streaming Srh Vs Rcb 5 april live streaming

allgovtsjob said...

Flipkart electronics sale discount

allgovtsjob said...

the Fate Of The Furious Box Office Collection

Fate Of The Furious Movie Review
Jee Main Result 2017
BAHUBALI 2 THE CONCLUSION

IPL said...

ipl videos
dhoni ipl career
ipl best catches video
ipl videos 2017
ipl eliminator tickets
ipl umpires 2017
ipl in hindi
ipl extra innings cast

Vidyadhar Nagar said...

I admire your writing skills. 10th Board Result 2017
10th Board Roll Wise Results
10th Board name wise Results
10th Results

cricket cup said...

ipl 2017 opening ceremony Live Streaming
Icc Champions Trophy Winners

List