The debate about “fake news” and the “post-truth” society we now supposedly inhabit has become the epistemological version of a feeding frenzy: so much heat, so little light. Two things about it are particularly infuriating. The first is the implicit assumption that “truth” is somehow a straightforward thing and our problem is that we just can’t be bothered any more to find it. The second is the failure to appreciate that the profitability, if not the entire business model, of both Google and Facebook depends critically on them not taking responsibility for what passes through their servers. So hoping that these companies will somehow fix the problem is like persuading turkeys to look forward to Christmas.
The rise of the internet may have created our current predicament, but the people who populate the internet can help us get out of it. Next time you go back and forth with someone over a controversial issue online, stick to facts with good sources, and engage in open dialogue. Most importantly, be nice. You may end up being a small part of the process whereby information chaos becomes knowledge.
Like most people, I’ve long known that factual falsehoods are routinely published in major media outlets. But as I’ve pointed out before, nothing makes you internalize just how often it really happens, how completely their editorial standards so often fail, like being personally involved in a story that receives substantial media coverage. I cannot count how many times I’ve read or heard claims from major media outlets about the Snowden story that I knew, from first-hand knowledge, were a total fabrication.We have a perfect example of how this happens from the New York Times today, in a book review by Nicholas Lemann, the Pulitzer-Moore professor of journalism at Columbia University as well as a long-time staff writer for The New Yorker.
The most ironic aspect of all this is that it is mainstream journalists — the very people who have become obsessed with the crusade against Fake News — who play the key role in enabling and fueling this dissemination of false stories. They do so not only by uncritically spreading them, but also by taking little or no steps to notify the public of their falsity.
Those interested in a sober and rational discussion of the Russia hacking issue should read the following:(1) Three posts by cybersecurity expert Jeffrey Carr: first, on the difficulty of proving attribution for any hacks; second, on the irrational claims on which the “Russia hacked the DNC” case is predicated; and third, on the woefully inadequate, evidence-free report issued by the Department of Homeland Security and FBI this week to justify sanctions against Russia.(2) Yesterday’s Rolling Stone article by Matt Taibbi, who lived and worked for more than a decade in Russia, titled: “Something About This Russia Story Stinks.”(3) An Atlantic article by David A. Graham on the politics and strategies of the sanctions imposed this week on Russia by Obama; I disagree with several of his claims, but the article is a rarity: a calm, sober, rational assessment of this debate.
one’s views of Assange are completely irrelevant to this article, which is not about Assange. This article, instead, is about a report published this week by The Guardian that recklessly attributed to Assange comments that he did not make. This article is about how those false claims — fabrications, really — were spread all over the internet by journalists, causing hundreds of thousands of people (if not millions) to consume false news. The purpose of this article is to underscore, yet again, that those who most flamboyantly denounce Fake News, and want Facebook and other tech giants to suppress content in the name of combating it, are often the most aggressive and self-serving perpetrators of it.
The phrase “Fake News” has exploded in usage since the election, but the term is similar to other malleable political labels such as “terrorism” and “hate speech”; because the phrase lacks any clear definition, it is essentially useless except as an instrument of propaganda and censorship. The most important fact to realize about this new term: Those who most loudly denounce Fake News are typically those most aggressively disseminating it.
The study found that over the last three months of the election campaign, 20 top-performing false election stories from hoax sites and hyper-partisan blogs generated 8,711,000 shares, reactions, and comments on Facebook, whereas the 20 best-performing election stories from 19 major news websites generated a total of 7,367,000 shares, reactions and comments. In other words, if you run a social networking site, fake news is good for business, even if it’s bad for democracy.
Y pese a que la prensa mayoritaria lo negaba en forma maniaca, los correos filtrados por Wikileaks eran viralizados por las redes sociales, dando cuenta de una serie de situaciones como las siguientes: cerca de la mitad de las personas que lograron tener acceso a Hillary Clinton mientras era Secretaria de Estado, habían hecho, en los días previos, importantes donaciones a la Fundación Clinton (pay to play); su jefe de campaña era al mismo tiempo lobbista de los gobiernos de Arabia Saudita y Qatar (acusados de ser financistas de ISIS), para los cuales consiguió millonarias ventas de armas (durante el periodo en que Clinton fue Secretaria de Estado las exportaciones de armas duplicaron a las realizadas en tiempos de Bush).
While most eyes are focused on the presidential race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, three major events prove how widespread, and dangerous, mass surveillance has become in the West. Standing alone, each event highlights exactly the severe threats that motivated Edward Snowden to blow his whistle; taken together, they constitute full-scale vindication of everything he’s done.