After telling the public for over a year that the election of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States was not going to materialize, the mainstream media have now turned their collective attention toward something they have characterized as “fake news.”
The phrase, however, is a fake itself, and its deliberate use manipulative in nature. The mainstream media are out to cleanse social media of sites that pose obstacles to a uniform way of thinking; that being a left-leaning ideology.
Through a series of reports and opinion pieces, mainstream media outlets have set their sights on the social platform Facebook and are on a campaign to pressure the site to “police” its members and remove posts deemed to be “fake news.”
During his recent European tour, the president himself joined in on the Facebook harangue.
“In an age where there’s so much active misinformation, and it’s packaged very well, and it looks the same when you see it on a Facebook page or you turn on your television … If everything seems to be the same and no distinctions are made, then we won’t know what to protect.” Obama said.
Via a post on his page, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg dutifully announced that the company will detect and remove false posts in the site’s News Feed.
Zuckerberg discussed as well the possibility that the site would also label certain stories with a disclaimer, alerting readers that the content has been deemed false by third-party fact-checking services.
Facebook additionally indicated that the site will disallow sponsored posts (a.k.a. advertisements) that are illegal, misleading, or deceptive, including “fake news” ads.
There is no question that since its inception the Internet has been freedom’s haven. One of the prices paid for such a degree of liberty is that some of the web’s bandwidth will inevitably be used for less than honorable purposes.
Freedom has a price tag in social media circles as well. Fake accounts, phony groups, and automated “bots” have been known to masquerade as humans, all of which can have the effect of manipulating feeds.
While it is true that during the presidential campaign some postings of news stories by various blogs and sites were blatantly false, in many cases the motivation had to do with making money, i.e., the goal was to create “click bate” that would attract visitors to monetized websites.
Facebook’s cure for the problem, though, is not one that should be tolerated because it amounts to censorship, pure and simple, and the public has had its full of a duplicitous media.
The mere act of defining “fake news” is fraught with its own problems. Would the New York Times, CNN, MSNBC, and other outlets that published dubious news stories throughout the lengthy election season be included in the group categorized as purveyors of false news stories? Most would agree that, although warranted in many cases, this would be highly unlikely.
It has become more and more apparent that “fake news” is the latest meme being used by left-leaning media in their all-out effort to eliminate competition from the conservative side of the political spectrum.
Establishment media organizations such as New York Magazine have been disseminating rosters of “fake news” sites. Not surprisingly, the lists are full of legitimate conservative outlets.
Facebook’s idea to use a central planning model to monitor its site has already failed in a previous scandal, one in which conservative outlets were unfairly removed from its Trending Topics section.
So-called editors wrote descriptions of trending news stories, accompanied by links that they had chosen. The practice was abandoned after conspicuous and explicit bias was revealed, something to which Zuckerberg himself ultimately admitted.
Facebook represents a marketplace of ideas where content is supplied and evaluated by the users. Zuckerberg fully understands this.
As part of his statement on “fake news,” Zuckerberg wrote, “We need to be careful not to discourage sharing of opinions or to mistakenly restrict accurate content. We do not want to be arbiters of truth ourselves, but instead rely on our community and trusted third parties.”
Zuckerberg also knows, as do most Americans, that social media should be delivered freely to its members in non-curated feeds where members themselves decide what is worthwhile to view and what is not.