Scott Pelley, on CBS 60 Minutes this Sunday evening, produced a most disturbing report on the reliance of so many Americans on “fake news” sites and their willingness to believe their contents.
And the episode clarifies is this is not about politicians (Donald Trump) claiming an inconvenient truth is fake news, but actual made-up salacious falsehoods believed by millions.
And some of the purveyors, including a southern California lawyer who provides some of the stories on a site named but not hyperlinked in the story, claim they believe the stories.
The episode also explained how bots provide false “likes” of social media, making the stories appear more popular than they are, to increase advertising war. Some of the bots are software created in Russia.
My own stories and blog posts use credible news outlets as much as possible, rather than any sites like those claimed to be fake. I do consider Breitbart and Milo to be valid.
The broadcast did review the Comet Ping Pong incident (“Pizzagate”) in Washington DC. The owner suddenly started getting threats in social media, after bizarre connections to Clintons’ campaign were rumored (details ). It’s curious that people don’t believe these when in print in supermarket tabloids (which were targeted, remember, in the 2001 anthrax attacks), but do when they go viral online. Petual Dvorak has a perspective comparing fake news writers to real reporters here.
In the video above, Ashton Kutcher compares real stories about trafficking to the fake news conspiracy theories.
I do cover stories that I think are legitimate and not sufficiently covered by mainstream media – like about the fragility of the power grids to solar storms or physical terror or EMP as well as cyberterror. One can “connect the dots” from totally credible sources.
I am constantly bombarded with invitations to increase my Twitter followers.
The plea deal for Edgar Welch in the Comet Ping Pong case was recently announced, here.
Update: March 29
Electronic Frontier Foundation reports on a California bill, AB 1104, that would criminalize the posting of fake news that could influence an election or referendum vote (imagine how that could affect gay issues). The latest is that the bill has been pulled.
The Washington Post has an op-ed by Margaret Sullivan (Style section) about the possibility of libel suits over fake news, especially Comet Ping Pong, and whether an apology (as from the Alex Jones Channel) can matter. The business owners still face consequences from the fact that a gullible portion of the public still believes the stories.
Paul Fahri has a story in the same page about whether readers can distinguish news from opinion, which I will probably take up soon in more detail on Wordpress/