Thursday, April 20, 2017

How Fake News Came to Be

Was thinking about this earlier and the domino effect of events that led us to this current reality. It's actually pretty simple: 

#1 The "news" actually used to be the news. There were only a couple news stations in the beginning, they were on once a day, the reported the most relevant news and then shut up. 

#2 People started watching tv more and more -including older generations who retired and would stay home most of the day. News stations saw an opportunity to make more money so they started broadcasting the news ALL day long. 

#3 In order to fill an all-day channel of "news" they started filling in with special reports about whether broccoli was actually healthy and what the best practices for spring cleaning were... and "The View" started working its way in with sessions that included several notable people DEBATING the news of the day. 

#4 This was followed by online news articles -some of which contained actual news and some of which contained the filler or opinion-filled commentary. 

#5 People -especially older generations then got used to watching actual facts and news followed by "opinion sessions" debating and discussing the news. The news itself then started getting more and more biased (including politically) and started "reframing" news that matched their agenda. If something bad occurred that you didn't like it was either not reported, made to seem insignificant, or explained in such a way that it ended up seeming like good news. 

#6 Soon more and more online "news" sources started popping up passing misinformation in through their rumor mills and creating content that seemed like news but was actually just lies based on nothing to spew a hateful, often disturbing rhetoric like antisemitism or racism.  

#7 My generation and younger (and some people from the generation before mine) have gotten in the habit of actually checking news sources. When you're standing in a circle and someone speaks a rumor that sounds pretty outlandish, it often occurs to people to ask around and genuinely discover the truth. These younger generations seek truth rather than sensationalized rumor and gossip. So they're not as likely to just swallow a heading and buy it. 

#8 Fact checking has been made easier thanks to search engines and the ability to do independent research online or follow those that do it for a living quite frequently. The OLDER generation does not know how to do this. some of them don't even know how to use Google. 

#9 You have a generation of people used to thinking the news is factual because they were raised with it being that way who have not realized it is deeply biased sometimes and can report falsely or "reframe"information. They also haven't been raised with the instinct for independent research and seeking Truth like these younger generations have. So they follow rumors rather than reality. 

#10 In spite of Facebook's best efforts at shutting down fake news, "opinioned news" still happens. they will give facts, but then go DEEPLY into a mentality, ideology, and rhetoric that gives opinions of these facts and usually seeks to support an agenda (usually against specific groups of people). 

And so here go the dominoes: 

It was a fact that on a college campus 2 young men used graffiti to make swastikas and antisemitic phrases on the walls outside of the dorm belonging to a Jewish student. The 2 men were caught and arrested. 

This was a small-town publication of an online news article with no one else replicating the story or looking into it further. It was pretty cut and paste. 

An antisemitic "opinion/fake news" site took the story and changed it to say that these 2 men vandalizing the school were JEWISH. The story went on that these two men were faking antisemitism because "Jews like to complain even when nothing wrong is happening to them and everything is fine in the Jewish community and no hate crimes are ever occurring against them..." 

Mike Huckabee (former presidential candidate and government official) then saw this article and posted it. This #1 indicates he frequently reads articles from an overtly antisemitic online source, #2 likes propagating and buying into antisemitic rhetoric, and #3 seeks to further that agenda by abusing his influence and spreading that kind of "news". It also insinuates he counts the "news" from these sources as unquestioningly legitimate and would never bother to think otherwise. 

Thinking fake news, opinion news, and news with an agenda is unbiased and founded in reality is a mistake many people are making these days. 

And there isn't much that can be done except encouraging people to STOP watching news "shows" because there's more emphasis on the show-portion of that title at this point than the "news". 

Also, be very careful about what sources you find online and only seek Truth -not opinion or debate of it. Truth shouldn't come with opinion or debate when it's a FACT intended to be accepted in. 

If there are greater implications and deeper underlying issues that a news story highlights or illustrates then discuss the bigger issues -not the news itself. 

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