Today, we live social. Our consumption of news information are no longer restricted to the paper press; the advent of the world wide web pioneered a more levelled playing field for news dissemination. It remains noteworthy that despite the theoretically more even news dissemination stage – where all news should have equal opportunities to be viewed and maintain a certain standard of non-fabrication – some news remain, strikingly, more equal than others.
The coming of an unequal playing field
Without barriers to entry and the seemingly lack of regulation of ‘news’ on the web, anything and everything can be news. The social media scene has blossomed, and an increasingly large number of users use the Internet as a news source. To the ordinary and less invested user (read: casual users), they may take these news at face value without questioning its validity. An article by the CCCB further probed the unfairness of the Internet-system (particularly on Facebook) in selectively dishing out articles to users: certain algorithms and user interaction on the net end up inevitably curating a limited, possibly skewed selection of available articles.
That’s not all! With the advent of advertising services, news sites wanting to increase the outreach of their articles for their vested interests, can now pay to make it happen. News on the Internet is no longer just news, it is now a mishmash of curated content not by the user but by others, for the user. Choice is no longer an option.
Vested news sites?
As mentioned earlier, the deliberate curation and structured news feed of particular sites have altered information availability and possibly, driving users into adopting a more limiting opinion based on the limited information. In the two selected articles of Breitbart News and Washington Post – both presenting opposing point of view – there is a startling difference in journalism writing. Breitbart’s news offers a stronger stance with harsher criticism, with blatant usage of irony (“As in, Thanks, guys, we couldn’t have done it without you.”); ironically, it was a strongly opinionated piece obviously missing the crux of the issue: that Flynn left because of his illegal misdoings, whether or not his misdeeds were revealed by wiretapping. The agency of news is questioned: was their purpose to present a fair point of view, or what should be right? Like Trump’s allegiations that Obama wiretapped him at Trump tower during the last election, the writing is unfortunately similarly, not substantial.
Parody: bringing humour to political news
What’s now new or news? As the reporter of the video excerpt mentioned, “they (viewers) ain’t going to stop”. Parody makes the topic more relatable and palatable for viewers to digest, and they do want more. In spite of the parody treading on uneasy waters – while clearly touching upon a sensitive topic, the skit clearly had no strong directive on their own. Instead of making a personal statement, it purposed itself as a catalyst, to instead further spark off debate. Its constructed artificiality purports itself as an interesting dilemma, of both the fake, and the real.
6 thoughts on “Truth in the era of social media and fake news / Research Critique”
I’m glad you brought the way in which Facebook can be use to manipulate, even abuse the viewer, by tapping into their data and delivering information that is biased and specifically designed to appeal to their sensibility. In doing so, these algorithmically placed advertisements can literally weave their way into someone’s perception of reality, so they believe it is true, because it is BASED on their reality. It’s quite trick and while Facebook has attempted to curtail manipulative fake news, it’s very difficult to stop, hard to detect, and lethal in its ability to twist people’s minds.
It does seem susfishious how Breighbart seems to purposefully neglect the true issue as you state. Using the guise of over-emotion and an editorial style of writing, they can still appear as a reliable sources to those who would look no further into what “really” happened.
News sites DO have vested interests, which I think is easy to forget, but is incredibly evident with the articles cited. It would be nice to think that “news” sites are unbiased and their interests are in the public good. Interestingly, the National Association of Broadcasters in the US has just launched an ad campaign to differentiate themselves (broadcasters) from paid-channel or online news outlets. They are trying to promote themselves as having the public interest at heart since they are licensed by the government. Of course they have their vested interests as well.
And these days, news sites are constantly in a state of justifying their existence after their sincere failure to predict the election and their continued, supposedly tilted reporting against the Trump organization. With every news story must also come the justification for it, which in a twisted way only supports the thesis that they don’t have an obvious reason to exist. “The lady doth protest too much” – in other words.