Facebook Has Introduced a Campaign to “Fight Fake News”.

“Fake news” has become a buzzword ever since Trump’s victory, which came as a surprise to many. Mainstream media pundits are using this term, largely to avoid their own role in Trump’s election. Larger corporate outlets who have been a 24/7 mouthpiece to Trump, are scapegoating alternative media, as one big farce, in order to keep their credibility as they continue to give a platform to racism and ignorance.

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Is it really plausible that all 50,000,000 people who voted for Trump did so because they read fake news about Trump being endorsed by the Pope? Even though mainstream media has far larger of a reach? My father who watches CNN every single night voted for Trump.

Facebook has decided to address the issue, and be the bearer of truth:

“We know people want to see accurate information on Facebook — and so do we. False news and hoaxes are harmful to our community and make the world less informed. All of us have a responsibility to curb the spread of false news.”

Should facebook users trust a company who sells their personal data for ad revenue, to also police their media consumption?

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“At Facebook we have been focusing on disrupting economic incentives because most false news is financially motivated…”

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Ahem, *news is financially motivated. Television, magazine and social media markets combined make up a trillion dollar industry. Facebook alone has a $190 billion market valuation. The truth is media outlets would not be commercially viable without the support of advertisers and therefore must cater to the political prejudices and economic desires of their advertisers.

“It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS.” CEO of CBS on Trump.

He also said ad sales this season have been particularly strong, partly due to an election cycle rapt with attacks and “bomb throwing” that keeps Americans interested.” * now he is literally throwing bombs and I’m sure that’s good for ratings too.

He knows that media is not so interested in the serious issues facing this country. They love bombastic remarks. They love silly remarks, I think this is more of an indictment of the media than it is Trump.” Bernie Sanders on Trump’s media coverage.

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And what qualifies as “real news”? Remember when MSNBC news host cut off a congresswoman to “breaking news” that Justin Bieber getting arrested for a DUI. http://www.complex.com/pop-culture/2014/01/msnbc-anchor-congresswoman-justin-bieber

Facebook’s new “fake news” radar tells users to:

“Be skeptical of headlines. False news stories often have catchy headlines in all caps with exclamation points. If shocking claims in the headline sound unbelievable, they probably are.”

Even the term “false news” is reductive, click bait-y, and never really defined. And isn’t mainstream media all about shocking “if it bleeds it leads” journalism which has become more closely related to a never ending horror film than useful information. It seems like the only thing CNN can report on is the president, terrorism and select celebrities. (See: This is Your Brain on Terrorism). Mainstream media too often sensationalizes events with little historical context or background information on what is actually happening and why.

Journalist Frank Joyce describes this as: “The manufacture of amnesia — never connecting the present to anything unpleasant in the past — is completely bi-partisan. MSNBC does it just as much as Fox News. Ditto for the New York Times and the Washington Times.”

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Is media coverage making a bad week worse? Probably.

“Investigate the source. Ensure that the story is written by a source that you trust with a reputation for accuracy. If the story comes from an unfamiliar organization, check their “About” section to learn more.”

This discredits grassroots organizations that may not have the funding or commercial image that mainstream news has. Advertisers and corporations have created certain looking expensive expectations around branding that create a false sense of what to “trust”. Just because processed food has become normalized and has a successful marketing team, does not mean it is normal or trustworthy to a consumer.

Furthermore this investigation should include tracing the money of the sources and their funders such as advertisers. It’s clear CNN is not going to give environmental causes big air time when they have sponsors such as Exxon Mobil, whose CEO Rex Tillerson is now the secretary of state under Trump. On the other hand media sites like Democracy Now, are listener and viewer supported, so their intentions are less questionable.

“Watch for unusual formatting. Many false news sites have misspellings or awkward layouts. Read carefully if you see these signs.”

I agree with this mostly, because it works for e-mail scams, although it is somewhat a colonialist rule. People who don’t speak or write great english will not be able to meet these standards/expectations.

Consider the photos. False news stories often contain manipulated images or videos. Sometimes the photo may be authentic, but taken out of context. You can search for the photo or image to verify where it came from.

What about companies allowed on facebook that advertise diet pills or beauty creams that falsely claim to make a person lose 10 pounds in one week. They may use photoshopped images to show a before an after picture to convince people it works. Does this make facebook complicit in fake advertising?

“Check the evidence. Check the author’s sources to confirm that they are accurate. Lack of evidence or reliance on unnamed experts may indicate a false news story.”

Even sources and citations that come from mainstream media outlets, can be traced to partisan think tanks, majority of which are conservative, according to FAIR.

“Nowadays, many Washington think tanks effectively serve as unregistered lobbyists for corporate donors, and companies strategically contribute to them just as they hire a PR or lobby shop or make campaign donations. And unlike lobbyists and elected officials, think tanks are not subject to financial disclosure requirements, so they reveal their donors only if they choose to. That makes it impossible for the public and lawmakers to know if a think tank is putting out an impartial study or one that’s been shaped by a donor’s political agenda.”

“Look at other reports. If no other news source is reporting the same story, it may indicate that the story is false. If the story is reported by multiple sources you trust, it’s more likely to be true.”

This statement seeks to delegitimize any news story that breaks that is not picked up by mainstream media for whatever reason. This is an attack on independent media.

Fake news accusations have come from both republicans and democrats, each to disprove the other.

Washington Post reports: “The flood of “fake news” this election season got support from a sophisticated Russian propaganda campaign that created and spread misleading articles online with the goal of punishing Democrat Hillary Clinton, helping Republican Donald Trump and undermining faith in American democracy, say independent researchers who tracked the operation.”

One of the independent researches referenced in this article is the US funded “Foreign Policy Research Institute”:“devoted to bringing the insights of scholarship to bear on the development of policies that advance U.S. national interests.” The key people of FPRI are made up of former government officials and conservatives like John Templeton Jr. (the scariest looking person I have ever seen) who at one point donated one million dollars to parties opposing same sex marriage. And this is considered an objective source? The other source is from an anonymous site called PropOrNot (which they later semi-retract).

This is an example of propaganda and media bias at Washington Post.

If Washington Post was allegedly “unbiased”, they would be able to give historical context to the Russian propaganda accusations, and draw parallels to U.S. involvement in regime change, which has overthrown democratically elected presidents in nearly every continent.

Mint Press News (an independent media publication) issued a response to the Washington Post piece:

“Washington Post ran a hit piece outing many progressive and alternative watchdog journalism outlets as “Russian propaganda tools.” According to the report, these outlets, including MintPress, Truthdig and Truthout, were responsible for handing Donald Trump the presidency by publishing “fake news” about Hillary Clinton during the campaign.”

The bulk of the Post’s report relied on PropOrNot, a mysterious online organization that made its social media debut in August.

PropOrNot states that, by its standards, “Russian propaganda” includes any site which criticizes the “US, Obama, Hillary Clinton, the EU, Angela Merkel, NATO, Ukraine, Jewish people, US allies, the ‘mainstream media,’ and democrats, the center-right or center-left, and moderates of all stripes.”

That’s broad, to say the least, but it boils down to this:

If you’re a watchdog journalist, upholding the First Amendment, defending constitutional rights, and working to revive the fourth estate from an expanding war machine and surveillance state — PropOrNot will out you as a minion of Moscow.

And while some of the 200 websites on PropOrNot’s “The List” do publish stories which are blatantly false, calls to “take action” against “fake news” have led some writers to warn about the potential for censorship of unpopular opinion.”

Washington Post eventually published an editors note on their shoddy news source:

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Washington Post’s editors note: They also changed the number of sets of researchers from two to four..?

The facebook “fake news” campaign is in partnership with:

The News Literacy Project : “Fighting Fake News With a New Font” with Walter Thompson New York (which works with brands like Energizer, Johnson & Johnson, and Nestlé, all notoriously gigantic corporations. Nestle alone has spent hundreds of millions of dollars in advertising , controversial cover ups and law suits from environmental groups.)

The News Literacy Project is funded by other billionaire elite. The Knight Foundation for example is connected to the Associated Press and Knight Ridder, an american media company which was the second largest newspaper publisher in the US and included tv networks eventually sold to Fox News and CBS. The Charles H Revson Foundation was founded by the same man who founded Revlon Cosmetics and the Rockefeller Foundation, founded by standard oil tycoon and the first American billionaire, John D. Rockefeller. Rockefeller monopolized the oil industry and was said to have been the catalyst of the extreme capitalism we see today. The Rockefellers control honeywell, monsanto, quaker oats, exxon mobil, JP Morgan Chase, United air lines, AT&T etc. (a vast swath of US industry.)

Why isn’t facebook collaborating with existing media watch dog groups like FAIR, that have been doing this work for decades?

FAIR, the national media watch group, has been offering well-documented criticism of media bias and censorship since 1986. They scrutinize media practices that marginalize public interest, minority and dissenting viewpoints. FAIR works with both activists and journalists. They also encourage the public to contact media with their concerns, to become media activists rather than passive consumers of news.

Facebook’s fake news campaign is an impulsive reaction to symptoms of a much larger problem. If corporate mass media, which has the reach and resources to inform billions of people, continues to favor economic interests over better and more well rounded content, then it will remain complicit in creating the ignorance that allows for phenomena like “fake news” to exist.

“Information is power. But like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves.” — Aaron Swartz


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