Fake News Media Promotes Censorship

Pretending that people can’t be trusted to decide for themselves, the fake news media searches for a way to control what people believe.

A recent AFP “story” (really, an editorial) shows how committed the fake news media is to making the government the controller of information. People can’t be trusted to make up their own minds.

The message is completely devoid of nuance. It claims if people believed Barack Obama was born in Kenya, that was some kind of great problem with fake news. But the truth is that the people who believed that mostly hated Obama for other reasons. Nothing was changed by that piece of misinformation and nothing would have been changed if they had persuaded every single person is wasn’t true.

Naturally, the fake news media portrays Trump and conservatives as the source of misinformation and themselves as above reproach.

AFP reports, “The online battle for the truth.

False information is saturating political debate worldwide and undermining an already weak level of trust in the media and institutions, spreading further than ever on powerful social networks.

US President Donald Trump has popularised the term “fake news”, using it mainly as an accusation levelled at the media, and it is increasingly used by politicians from Spain to China, Myanmar or Russia.

“Fake news” has been generalised to mean anything from a mistake to a parody or a deliberate misinterpretation of facts.

At the same time, the proliferation of false online information is increasingly visible in attempts to manipulate elections, notoriously surrounding Trump’s 2016 victory.

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– Misinformation –

Nearly two years after Trump’s shock win, debate is still raging on the impact of “fake news” on the presidential campaign.

The build-up saw numerous examples of hoaxes and false news stories — one about Hillary Clinton’s alleged links to a child sex ring, another about the Pope purportedly endorsing Trump — which were shared massively and some believe could have swung votes to tip Trump to victory.

Misinformation had “a significant impact” on voting decisions, according to Ohio State University researchers, who questioned voters about whether they believed certain false stories.

The researchers said it was impossible to prove that false information had changed the course of the election but noted it would have required a change in just 0.6 percent of voters, or 77,744 people, in three key states, to alter the electoral college outcome.

Since the election, Trump has denounced as “fake news” any information that displeases him while his aides have offered a mixture of truth and distortions, sometimes described as “alternative facts.”

This has hurt the credibility of the US news media and led some to describe the current period as a “post-truth era” — an age without a shared reality.

“The truth is no longer seen as important,” said John Huxford of Illinois State University, whose research focuses on false information, adding that “lies and fabrication even seem to bolster one’s reputation and political prowess among their core supporters.”

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About the author

Joe Scudder

Joe Scudder

Joe Scudder is the "nom de plume" (or "nom de guerre") of a fifty-ish-year-old writer and stroke survivor. He lives in St Louis with his wife and still-at-home children. He has been a freelance writer and occasional political activist since the early nineties. He describes his politics as Tolkienesque.

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