Post-election public awareness of the depth and breadth of fake news is growing by the hour. The recent BuzzFeed blast (https://www.buzzfeed.com/craigsilverman/the-strangest-fake-news-empire?utm_term=.gmdrXdGXg#.oc7BJQpJw) brings the pernicious practice into the daily lives of masses of the general public are just now feeling the pain.
If there is any hope it lies in the fact that the explosion sparks a flicker of hope that the current torrent of public awareness may lead to action – including a heightened level of “perceptive paranoia” among news consumers. For now, the communities bamboozled by the false claims of high profile neighbors-to-be are injured, insulted and enraged.
Meanwhile, in the journalistic background action steps are underway: For starts, there is increased respect — not to mention expanding career opportunities — for fact checkers such as the truth-seekers at Ballotpedia (http:ballotpedia.org), Annenberg’s (http://www.factcheck.org), Politifact (http://www.politifact.com), the Poynter Institute (http://www.poynter.org) to name just a few. Fact checkers can’t change the original but they can inform perceptive individuals to the incipient dangers of the misinformation and disinformation.
Understandably, serious journalists are seriously exorcised. Members of the press, appropriately outraged, have spoken out in multiple ways. These are but a few of the published critiques based on the fake news story:
- On the issue of consumers recognizing the devastating impact of fake news, the Pew Research Center published a recent post-election article: http://www.journalism.org/2016/12/15/many-americans-believe-fake-news-is-sowing-confusion/ The study has been widely reported reproduced and presumably read.
- And then there is the push back, e.g. Tom Basile’s piece in Forbes, “The real fake new is the mainstream media”http://www.forbes.com/sites/thomasbasile/2016/12/12/
- Right-Wing Media Are Using the Term ‘Fake News’ to Attack Credible News Sources – http://mediamatters.org/blog/2016/12/09/right-wing-media-using-term-fake-news-attack-credible-news-sources/214778
- Bob Collins posted a suggested antidote on MPR’s NewsCut — http://blogs.mprnews.org/newscut/2016/11/the-antidote-for-fake-news-better-journalism/
- Former communications director for Dan Quayle, Jeff Nesbit, echoed Collins’ thoughts in Time Magazine – http://time.com/4605146/fake-news-antidote/
- At least one commentator has the temerity to note that FB is not the sole perpetrator of fakery http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/technology/2016/11/the_problem_with_facebook_runs_much_deeper_than_fake_news.html.
- Another critic has pointed out that subscribers’ clicks to check on the validity of a FB fake fact add to the FB traffic boost!
In the parlance of the media mavens, the “needle has moved” on fake news. We are well in the Post-Truth Era. In our own good time the American public has heard the poet’s message – today, fake news IS the news.
We have a public disinformation epidemic that is spreading like a vicious virus through the communications channels – formal and informal – of this democracy. The true fact is that we have a preliminary, if not universal, diagnosis.
With all due respect for The Bard: The fault, dear Readers, lies not in the stars but in ourselves.”
Another good read: http://www.cjr.org/tow_center/mobile_notifications_changing_new_york_times.php?utm_source=Pew