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The Fake News Thread

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
I know most here are tired of hearing the phrase "Fake News" and these forums have several news threads already, but I think we can all agree that the problem of Fake News isn't going away anytime soon.

Beside just listing and discussing news stories that people think might be fake or ones proven to be fake, I'd also like to have a discussion on how the problem of fake news can be mitigated. I say mitigated because I don't think it will ever be solved.

These two podcast episodes I feel really make a case that the problem of fake news will probably get worse before it gets any better.

How Russia used fake news to incite the Ukrainian civil unrest which Russia then used as a reason to invade the Crimean peninsula to "keep the peace".
http://www.npr.org/sections/money/2017/08/25/546127444/episode-790-rough-translations-in-ukraine

How new digital technologies can make near perfect video of anybody saying anything.
http://www.radiolab.org/story/breaking-news/

Despite all the recent attention I feel that a lot of people forget that fake news isn't a new problem. It has been an issue since the dawn of civilization because fake news really is just a new term for propaganda.

As Wikipedia puts it:
Quote:
Propaganda is information that is not objective and is used primarily to influence an audience and further an agenda, often by presenting facts selectively to encourage a particular synthesis or perception, or using loaded language to produce an emotional rather than a rational response to the information that is presented. Propaganda is often associated with material prepared by governments, but activist groups, companies and the media can also produce propaganda.

You could replace every instance of the word propaganda in there with "Fake News" and still be factually correct, although I feel that the absence of religions from this definition is a bit glaring since religions are responsible for as much, if not more propoganda than governments.

So what can be done to curb the onslaught of fake news?

Personally I'm a bit stumped myself. While I do think that creating a government office to prosecute creators and distributors of fake news may be the most effective option, it is ethically questionable, definitely goes against freedom of speech, and also opens up a huge potential for abuse by basically giving the ruling political party free reign to suppress any news story that doesn't align with that party's beliefs. So that rules out that, unless someone can manage to figure out how to create a fully neutral government office within the justice department that is entirely free from political influence, cannot be closed or defunded by the current ruling party, and can somehow prosecute the people who spread fake news without violating their right to free speech.
post #2 of 3
Personal responsibility does have to factor in as well. We don't have a state run media that only tells us one thing. People can find other sources or viewpoints of information easily they just don't always chose to. Maybe fixing the education system would go a long way to fixing the fake news problem.
post #3 of 3
Thread Starter 
You are correct, but to what degree can personal responsibility be taught in school?

Schools almost exclusively focus on teaching knowledge and tend to leave the lesions of life to the parents. For example schools teach kids the math they can use to manage the calculations necessary to handle their finances as an adult, but they cannot force kids to use those lessons to become financially responsible, even though arguably that is all the information a person needs to not spend more money than they make.

However maybe teaching kids the hallmarks of fake news and how to tell it apart from real news would be benificial. The problem with this is that it that it amounts to only telling the kids what to look for when confronted with news on social media. It doesn't force them to always view that "news" skepticism and make sure to check for other several other well known news outlets to pick up the story before sending the story to all of their friends. The thrill of being the first to share a piece of gossip often is too strong to resist.
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