People are pointing to the #Pizzagate incident as a reason for getting rid of fake news. But that’s not where fake news started and liberals are taking the “fake news” a couple steps too far by targeting actual news. Check this piece out.
Did the sequence of events leading up to the 4 December #Pizzagate incident in Washington, DC mark the point when fake news became real? I think not. Fake news has been real since we’ve had the capability to communicate language and tell stories. It’s an unfortunate reality that news reporting is often at odds with the interest trifecta of politics, profits, and public opinion.
What’s changed is the internet, which has altered the scale of the fake news problem, taking it to another level. While fake news might have been less visible in the past, it has always been with us. Where we might find Twitter bots today, we’ll find AI-powered virtual assistants and ubiquitous natural language interfaces (ie, Alexa, Siri, and Google Home) tomorrow.
Fake news will be our virtual friend
In some ways, we’ve already arrived. Is it fake news when Google Maps fails to provide us with the fastest route to a destination? Do we cry “fake news” when a deceptive review on Amazon influences our decision to buy an inferior product? What about when we go back after a negative experience and discover biased reviews on Yelp?
Fake news is more about what we can confirm as real than what we can identify as fake. News is the fabric that weaves together our realities, and Google, Facebook, Twitter – through always-on phone screens, activity trackers, and 24/7 GPS and indoor Bluetooth trails – represents our interface with this brave new world.
As global technology companies move forward with solutions to protect us – and their advertising revenue – from the scourge that is fake news, they must ensure that the smaller, less visible, alternative news outlets are not caught in their operational cleansing.
Independent media that seek to distribute their own news content are already challenged by premium content delivery systems such as Facebook’s Instant, 360 (Video), and Google’s AMP. The industry’s filtering response to fake news could signal the end of legitimate news outlets that make an effort to draw attention to issues they feel are underrepresented or intentionally suppressed by the mainstream media.
The new(s) pornographers
Fake news is a lot like pornography – especially in terms of how gatekeepers classify certain content (and known sources of content) they deem unsuitable for their audiences. Take, for instance, the Pulitzer prizewinning Vietnam war photo removed from Facebook. If a combination of human and machine detection has difficulty differentiating between child pornography and Vietnam war images, wait until we start pre-filtering (ie, preferentially censoring) news based on issue-based framing and community self-reporting.
Fake news has certainly been attracting attention, including that of national policymakers. Marsha Blackburn, an American congresswoman, has gone so far as to imply that internet service providers should be held responsible for taking down fake news, saying: “If anyone is putting fake news out there, the ISPs have the obligation to in some way get that off the web.”