Well, That Backfired

By: Sebastian Faura

Since the advent of the internet and social media, everyone has a platform to be able to communicate their opinions, hold discourse about specific topics, and generally share ideas with one another. This also allows for a wide variety of news sources, and the spread of information is quicker, gaining awareness to a singular topic or cause. However, this concept is a double-edged sword, due to the now apparent spread of misinformation. Though many technology and social media-based companies have started taking steps in order to verify news content put on the internet, in the meantime major figures have used the awareness of “fake news” to their own ends, exploiting the movement against it.

On the better side of the “fake news” movement, many social media giants and information aggregates are aiming to “vet” the flow of news on the internet. In order to ensure the information output from news sources is, at the least, based in some measure of fact, major web companies like Facebook and Google are teaming up to form a process to do so.

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Google Co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Source: Business Insider

On the negative aspect of this, powerful individuals and organizations, primarily ones based in politics have used this trend of awareness to their own ends as red herrings and as a dissuasion tactic. This has been primarily done by members and proponents of the current administration, discrediting any opposition to the current president as another piece of fake news. This harks back to the days of the Red Scare and McCarthyism, where opponents threw accusations at each other and being labeled a communist was a black mark for anyone involved. The administration is trying to incur the same effect, discrediting any of its critics or opponents and effectively ostracizing them in the eyes of the people.

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Steve Bannon, Trump’s nominated chief of the National Security Council. Source: BBC

Beres, Damon. “Google and Facebook Join Forces for News Verification Project.” Mashable. Mashable, 06 Feb. 2017. Web. 10 Feb. 2017.

Massie, Chris. “WH Official: We’ll Say ‘fake News’ until Media Realizes Attitude of Attacking the President Is Wrong.” CNN. Cable News Network, 7 Feb. 2017. Web. 10 Feb. 2017.

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