We get sliced and sliced into smaller and smaller groups, each with its own group of pundits, publications, and Facebook memes. And as advertising mixes with propaganda mixes with actual reporting we can’t tell the difference anymore. It’s a never-ending scorched earth campaign, made possible because harming trust and encouraging tribalism is economically rewarded. In other words, the economic incentives of news directly contribute to the divisiveness of our country.
…is attained using social media and platforms completely outside of the control of the news outlets. And the stuff that sells on social media is content that plays to the reader’s identity and confirms the reader’s preexisting beliefs.
However, these outlets have to do these things in order to pay for the “good” stuff. Yes, news outlets (and their fans) can point to the great reporting done by their outlet. But they often ignore the consequences of how that reporting is funded. Yes, advertisers can claim that some algorithm places their ads. But they ignore that their marketing budget is supporting sites with deceitful ends. Yes, social networks can claim they want to be an agnostic platform. But they ignore the credibility they give bad content.
In my previous post, I found that only ~60% of incoming traffic from a sample of leading “fake” and hyper-biased news sites seemed to be coming out of Facebook and Twitter. The remaining ~40% of web traffic was organic — coming from direct website visits, P2P shares, text/instant messaging, subscription e-newsletters, RSS, and search engines. Again: Less than 0.1% of the traffic to the sites I looked at came from display advertising or (known) paid search content.
…biased political news content is organically “seeded” — fitting with my idea (see story above) that “data-driven” public relations and strategic behavioral audience “micro-targeting” was the primary force behind the intentional spreading of this type of misinformation during #Election2016.