“. . . we find ourselves in a swamp of disinformation, rumor, innuendo and fake news . . .” Jeffrey Herbst

This is not fake news

The following is a short compendium of articles from newspapers, the internet, and online journals which, I trust, provides information about the epidemic of “fake news” that has stifled substantive political conversation among many Americans. Whether or not “fake news” effected Trump’s election is for each reader to decide.

Veles, Macedonia. The new Madison Avenue? (Photo: Transform Europe Now)

Silverman, Craig and Lawrence Alexander.
“How Teens In The Balkans Are Duping Trump Supporters With Fake News.”
BuzzFeed News. 
3 Nov 2016.   [Note: this was written before the election.] This is the news of the millennium!” said the story on WorldPoliticus.com. Citing unnamed FBI sources, it claimed Hillary Clinton will be indicted in 2017 for crimes related to her email scandal.
___“Your Prayers Have Been Answered,” declared the headline.
___For Trump supporters, that certainly seemed to be the case. They helped the baseless story generate over 140,000 shares, reactions, and comments on Facebook.
___Meanwhile, roughly 6,000 miles away in a small town in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, a young man watched as money began trickling into his Google AdSense account.
___Over the past year, the Macedonian town of Veles (population 45,000) has experienced a digital gold rush as locals launched at least 140 US politics websites.     More . . .

Lewis, Helen.
“Did fake news on Facebook swing the US election?”
New Statesman. .
17 Nov. 2016.   Its 1.7 billion users were treated to articles about how the Pope backs Trump and Clinton is dying. It’s time to accept Facebook is a force in politics.      More . . . 

Tan, Zhai Yun.
“Mark Zuckerberg says no, don’t blame election results on Facebook.”
Christian Science Monitor.
11 Nov. 2016.   Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg defended his company on Thursday by saying that it’s a “crazy idea” to think that fake news on the social network helped elect Donald Trump to the White House.
___It was a remark aimed at criticism that the social media network, one of the most widely used in the United States, has aided in the spread of fake news through its algorithms that run the Trending box, and in showing what posts show up on a user’s feed.    More . . .

Lindsay, Rowena.
“How Zuckerberg’s changing his mind on Facebook’s fake news dilemma.”
Christian Science Monitor.
19 Nov. 2016.  Facebook and other tech companies have long tried to stay out of content curation, verification or censorship. But the volume of unreliable information in circulation, particularly throughout the election cycle, is shifting thinking.   More . . .  

Vijayan, Jaikumar.
“Google, Facebook Move To Curb Ads On ‘Fake News’ Sites.”
15 Nov. 2016.   Google and Facebook have said that they will work to prevent websites that distribute fake news from benefiting from revenue generating advertising placements.     ___Google this week joined Facebook in announcing that it would restrict revenue-generating advertisements from being placed on websites purveying fake news.   The move appears to be in response to the criticism that both companies have received in recent days for allowing some websites to distribute fake news pertaining to the recent U.S. presidential election.   More . . .   

Murtha, Jack.
“How fake news sites frequently trick big-time journalists.”
Columbia Journalism Review.
26 May 2016.    It would’ve been one hell of a story. Early this month, “news” surfaced that Michael Jordan—yes, the Michael Jordan—had threatened to move his NBA team, the Charlotte Hornets, from North Carolina unless the state repealed a law barring transgender people from using the bathroom of their choice. Air Jordan hadn’t seemed so heroic since he saved Bugs Bunny in the 1996 movie Space Jam.
___Except the news was as fictional as the film.
___A few sites posing as legitimate news organizations, including one that crudely imitates ABC News’ logo and web address, first published the bunk Jordan story. From there it spread to other media outlets, like Metro US, Elite Daily, and the Dallas Voice. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel even weaponized the false claim in an editorial against North Carolina’s law. For what felt like the millionth time, fake news sites—the kind that say they’re satirical but are nothing like The Onion—had duped journalists into buying a bogus story.     More . . .

Spinner, Jackie.
“In Trump territory, local press tries to distance itself from national media.”
Columbia Journalism Review
21 Nov 2016.   About a month before the election, a radio station in Fairfield, Illinois, stopped taking calls to its popular morning talk show. It was the first time in 25 years that news director Len Wells remembers ever having to shut off the phones.
___“It was awful,” Wells says of the comments about the presidential race. “We had people calling and saying incredibly hateful and ugly things. We just couldn’t have a civil conversation.”
___WFIW is broadcast from Wayne County in Southern Illinois, where voters overwhelmingly voted for President-elect Donald Trump. In fact, Trump had the largest margin of support in Wayne out of any county in Illinois, with 83 percent of the vote. (Hillary Clinton won the state because of the large Democratic base in more populous and diverse Chicago and its ring suburbs).    More . . .   

Herbst, Jeffrey.
“How to Beat the Scourge of Fake News.  Facebook and Google can’t do it alone. Better educating consumers is crucial.” 
Wall Street Journal. 
11 Dec 2016    This was supposed to be the information age. Instead, we find ourselves in a swamp of disinformation, rumor, innuendo and fake news. To cite a few examples: A false endorsement of Donald Trump by the pope on Facebook went viral, along with a story that Ireland was accepting anti-Trump refugees. . .    More . . .  

Burko, Casey.
“Fake News Trumps True News.”
Ethics AdviceLine for Journalists
28 Nov 2016   Fake news might have proved more interesting to readers than the factual stuff.
___This sobering thought has churned angst over whether social-media falsehoods contributed to Donald Trump’s presidential victory, not to mention whether the upset win could have been foreseen.
___News consumers tend to believe reports that support their personal beliefs — an effect that psychologists call confirmation bias. People like to believe they’re right. In the election run-up, they clicked their way across the internet to prove it.    More . . . 

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