Fake News Files, 1st Edition


The term “fake news” is wildly popular these days, but it seems like most people using the term don’t actually know what it means. This is because Trump artfully hijacked the term during his presidential campaign, and “changed” the definition before it became obvious that fake news was his primary tool. Fake news originally meant news that was actually false, or disinformation. However, Trumpists took over and started using it, so now it means “any news that I don’t want to discuss or believe.” It is bred from the same conservative victim complex I discussed previously.

So, how does the actual fake news get out there? If everyone is so cognizant of fake news these days, how can is still exist? Well, the same people who like to call everything fake news, actually disseminate the fake news that infects American civic understanding. We’ll be periodically giving some examples in hopes that it helps you identify and avoid purposeful misinformation. I don’t mean to imply that these people have spread this information for some nefarious purpose; but I would suggest, at a minimum, that ignorance is not an excuse for refusing to research.

 

Notice how this guy uses non-committal language (“If true”) like he knows he’s full of it. The rumor in this blog came from a conservative christian website that publishes a lot of lies. They claim that the Trump administration discovered that Obama arranged a bunch of fake foreign visits through 2036 that were actually vacations, in an attempt to use 2 billion dollars in taxes. Apparently, Trump sent a bill to Obama for the money, in an ultimate show of manliness. None of this ever happened, or there would be actual evidence of it somewhere. It is purely intended to give conservatives an untrue talking point to counter claims that Trump wastes a lot of tax money with vacations.

 

This is a more tricky style of fake news, where you use real facts in a very misleading way. This particular Trumpist shared this quote, which conservatives used to complain that Trump wasn’t get credit for doing something positive. The statistic itself is true. The problem is, this statistic is utterly irrelevant in this context for 2 reasons:

  1. It’s extremely unlikely for the president to enact something on day 1 that has a material impact on this figure (and Trump didn’t).
  2. This one-month statistic means nothing in the long-term; we already know the debt is going up. Do you really think this guy can magically deficit-spend yet reduce the national debt?

This kind of fake news is combined with real stats to make slightly more discerning conservatives feel good that they can point to a non-lie.

 

Here is another combination of true and false, with the general truth that the ACA is weak being used to exaggerate how weak it is. You can argue all day about what “better” healthcare looks like, and it is true that the ACA seriously lacks cost controls. But there is a problem when we start to pretend that coverage wasn’t expanded. The extremely popular expansion of Medicaid was a great success to the states that chose to do it, and poor people widely suffered in states that politicized and rejected the expansion. Health insurance companies love these kind of memes, because they make it look like a government-run healthcare funding option would fail to save more Americans. But it’s just a freaking lie.

 

It’s hard to be sure that you are getting quality news these days. Even mainstream media cannot be truly trusted in many occasions, as they ultimately work for corporations. Your best chance at avoiding sharing some complete nonsense, would be to consult several sources. Don’t take my word for it; take several.

 

Fake News Expert On How False Stories Spread And Why People Believe Them
How to avoid getting conned by fake news sites
The plague of fake news is getting worse — here’s how to protect yourself
Fake News, Hate Speech and Social Media Abuse: What’s the Solution?
How & why to avoid sharing fake news
10 Ways to Spot a Fake News Article
How to Spot Fake News

 

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