Showing posts with label Media Fake. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Media Fake. Show all posts

December 11, 2016

Fake or Real? How to Know and Your Recourse on Fake News

Below is how we can recognize fake news. Ive written about this giving precise directions but also wanted someone like NPR, which is a non profit dedicated to tell the story without taking sides.
Be free to communicate through the comments section anything you will like others to know about this story or the point is making. If it’s to the Publisher just address it to the “Publisher” and it will not be published it. It will be taken as a communication for me, the publisher.

*Are we really in a post-truth era? Somebody on the Internet said so. Many people, actually.

The presidential campaign was filled with falsehoods. Our president-elect no longer poses as a truth-teller: Aides and supporters say we should not take him literally. That's good for him, since he endorsed a conspiracy theory that cast doubt on his own election. (Remember? He claimed without evidence that there were "millions" of illegal voters, who, if they did exist, might have swung the election to him?) Fake news stories about a Washington, D.C., pizza restaurant prompted a real person to "investigate" with a rifle last week.

But let's properly define the problem. History and experience tell me it's not a post-truth era: Facts have always been hard to separate from falsehoods, and political partisans have always made it harder. It's better to call this a post-trust era.

Business, government, churches and the media have fallen in public esteem. These institutions paid a price for an entire generation of wars, scandals, economic convulsions, and cynical politics. We're left with fewer traditional guideposts for whom to believe. The spread of fake news from fraudulent sources is only a symptom: The larger problem is that many Americans doubt what governments or authorities tell them, and also dismiss real news from traditional sources.

Hazardous as the post-trust era may be, it shouldn't cause despair. It's all right for Americans to be skeptical of what they read and hear. How could I say otherwise? I'm a journalist. It's my job to question what I hear. While I shouldn't cynically dismiss everything people tell me, I should ask for evidence and avoid buying into bogus narratives. Being a skeptical reporter has made me a more skeptical news consumer.

What we all need, as citizens, is to develop more skill in applying our skepticism. We need to spot false narratives, and also turn aside those who would replace them with pure fiction. Either we get this right or we cease to be free citizens.
Students Have 'Dismaying' Inability To Tell Fake News From Real, Study Finds
Propagandists obviously have fun (and profit from) trying to con us, the public. Why not have fun smoking them out? You can apply this advice not only in hunting for totally fake stories, but also in testing out the stories on more or less fact-based websites or traditional TV and newspapers. (Even NPR.)

In general, traditional news organizations are more reliable because their business model is to paint the clearest picture of the world that they can manage. But in the post-trust era we know that any news source can steer you wrong at times, and they're likely all jumbled together in your news feed anyway.

So here's a finder's guide for facts:

First, take a moment. If you have time to scroll Facebook or watch the news, you probably have a moment to decide if a news story seems credible. Ask some quick questions:

Is the story so outrageous you can't believe it? Maybe you shouldn't. Respect the voice inside you that says, "What?"

Is the story so outrageous you do believe it? That's also a warning sign. Many stories play on your existing beliefs. If the story perfectly confirms your worst suspicions, look for more information.

Does the headline match the article? Many compelling headlines don't.

Does the article match the news story it's lifted from? Many sites rewrite other news articles to fit the political slant of their presumed audience. Look for links to original sources and click through and see what the original says.

Are quotes in context? Look for the sentences before and after the quote that makes your blood boil. If the article fails to give them, that's a warning sign.

Is the story set in the future? It's hard to get firsthand reporting from there. Any story that tells you what will happen should be marked down 50 percent for this reason alone.

Does the story attack a generic enemy? Vague denunciations of "Washington" or "the media" or "Trump supporters" or "the left" should be marked down 99 percent. Good reporting doesn't make these kinds of generalizations and is specific about whom is making a claim about what.

Are you asked to rely on one killer factoid? Not a good idea. If a hacked document "proves" an implausible conspiracy, look for the context that shows what the document really means. As for photos and video, use Ronald Reagan's old slogan: trust but verify. If there's any doubt about a "stunning" video, see if more traditional sources link to it. They love video clicks as much as anyone. If they refrain, there may be good reason.

Who is the news source, anyway? Traditional news brands may occasionally get it wrong — sometimes hugely wrong — but at least you know where to find them and hold them accountable. Less prominent news sites might carry compelling stories — but expect them to show you who they are and where they gathered information.

Does the news source appear to employ editors? Many news organizations produce stories that are checked before publication. Others don't. It's a big deal. Hiring an editorial staff shows the publication's respect for you, and matters more than "political bias." The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, for example, have different owners, audiences, stories, perspectives and obsessions. Both have made mistakes and omissions; but both send reporters out into the world and back them up with an editorial process that catches and corrects many errors. This means both can be informative, regardless of your politics or theirs
What Legal Recourse Do Victims Of Fake News Stories Have?
Are you told, "Trust me"? Don't. It's the post-trust era! Expect everyone to show where their facts come from, link to underlying articles, and demonstrate that they've argued honestly. Here's a way they may bolster their credibility:

Did the writer engage with anyone who disagrees? Did they call a senator whose legislation bugs them? Did they try to grasp what the president-elect was doing, or merely repeat one of his more outrageous statements? If it's a broadcast interview, was the guest presented with genuine opposing views and challenged to answer? Those who wrestle with opposing arguments do you a service and often improve their own arguments.

These simple questions should take you a long way toward judging the value of a news story. While applying such questions to any given story, you can also take a few more general steps:

Broaden your palate. Make a point to check sites that do not agree with your politics. You may discover stories that are wrong — but you'll know what other people are consuming, which will sharpen your own thinking.

Be open to the idea that some falsehoods are sincerely held. In spite of all the warnings here, some inaccurate news stories grow out of haste or misinformation rather than pure cynicism. (But they're still false.)

If a news source consistently passes the tests in this guide, support it. Gathering reliable information isn't free. Helping to pay for it aligns the news source's interests with yours.

If this guide helps you to find some reliable information, that's great — but remember one more thing: Never stop looking. Learning the truth is not a goal, but a process. As a journalist, I can never express everything in the world in a single day's program. The saving grace is tomorrow's program, when we try to do a little more. It is same for me as a news consumer: I will always be learning more.

December 9, 2016

The Pizza Gate


A popular pizza joint in Brooklyn, New York, has become the latest victim this week of a conspiracy theory that simply won’t quit: that a child prostitution operation connected to the Clinton family is being run out of another pizza spot in Washington, D.C.

The bogus theory first jumped from internet forums like Reddit, its birthplace and incubator, to the real world when an armed man went to Comet Ping Pong, a D.C. pizza parlor, to “self-investigate.” Police confirmed Wednesday that employees at the Brooklyn haunt Roberta’s have received multiple threatening phone calls as well. 

The persistence of what’s come to be known as “Pizzagate” captures a problem Reddit has wrestled with throughout its existence: how to live up to its motto of being “the front page of the internet” while keeping the worst parts of the platform from infecting everything else. It’s a tension creating difficulty in the site’s quest to become a “real” business that’s able to consistently attract big-name advertisers.

The Reddit forum devoted to “Pizzagate” was banned before Thanksgiving, but the conspiracy theory remained popular on Reddit’s largest pro-Trump forum, The_Donald, which, in addition to hosting Trump fandom, has become a volatile stew of fake news and white supremacy. Just four days before the incident in D.C., Reddit CEO Steve Huffman announced that the company would issue warnings and permanent bans to some of the most “toxic” The_Donald members and that all Reddit users could now filter The_Donald posts from r/all, which is effectively Reddit’s front page.

Days before that, Huffman acknowledged in a comment that he had screwed up when he edited user comments in an attempt to troll The_Donald trolls.

Even before Pizzagate, Reddit found itself at the center of several other scandals, including a stunning leak of nude celebrity photos, the Gamergate scandal, and years of bad behavior from a core group of racist and misogynist trolls. Shortly after Huffman joined last year, he said that Reddit would make changes to mitigate abuse and harassment and give unpaid Reddit moderators more tools for support.

But the community hasn’t been convinced. On Monday a popular Reddit post took aim at Huffman and his colleagues: “The_Donald’s pizzagate has officially created terrorism. Admins, it’s time for you to deal [with] them, or breed more terrorism.”

Many would characterize the changes as too little, too late. Moreover, Huffman’s surreptitious editing of posts written about him makes it hard for moderators to trust his motivations when he says he’s serious about cleaning up Reddit’s latest mess.

One of Reddit’s long-standing issues has been managing the large army of unpaid moderators who oversee the forums and keep Reddit running. The_Donald users frequently swarm other sections of the service with harassment and abuse, making it difficult for the moderators and small group of paid admins to maintain control.

A moderator of one subreddit with more than 10 million subscribers told VICE News that she “does not have faith in [Huffman’s] leadership,” particularly when it comes to dealing with The_Donald and its freewheeling moderators.

“No admin (less the CEO of Reddit) should be able to openly edit comments like that or even think that is acceptable,” she said in an email. “I have a lot of faith in the more active admins who work with us regularly, as they see what it is like to deal with these issues day-to-day. The leadership seems too concerned about image to see what is really going on.”

The mod, who requested anonymity because she feared retribution by The_Donald, added that while “a moderator’s job is to contain a community and promote civility … The_Donald manages to defy admins near hourly at this point.”

For years, Reddit has struggled to “contain” its community. Last year, a moderator revolt ended in the ouster of interim CEO Ellen Pao. On Huffman’s post admitting to editing comments last week, Pao replied to a Reddit comment by saying that she “would have immediately fired anyone who did” what he did.

“[Reddit] still hasn’t developed a coherent and transparent vision of what kind of site it wants to be.”

“Reddit is awful with community and has no sense with community,” said Randi Harper, founder of the Online Abuse Prevention Initiative, who has worked with Silicon Valley companies on internet harassment and abuse. “They put all of their energy and their focus into engineering, and not community …. 4chan has better community management than Reddit at this point. People there, the mods shut stuff down better.”

Though Reddit has pledged in the past to implement better fixes to deal with toxic elements of its community, University of Miami law professor and Cyber Civil Rights Initiative policy director Mary Anne Franks said the company “still hasn’t developed a coherent and transparent vision of what kind of site it wants to be.”

“The_Donald is only the latest iteration of the internal contradiction at the heart of Reddit: how easy it is for an allegedly no-holds-barred, radically free forum for ideas to be repeatedly monopolized by narrow-minded, censorious mobs,” Franks said in an email. “Reddit’s leadership needs to confront this reality and consider whether it is compatible with their vision for the site. If it is, then it needs to drop the pretense of having any principled commitment against harassment and abuse — and indeed any commitment to actual quality of discourse.”

Video game developer Brianna Wu — who was targeted by the Gamergate online hate mob that originated on Reddit and 4chan in 2015 — said that “if Reddit is serious about combating the toxic elements of their community, they need to reach out to some of the people routinely targeted,” which both Franks and Harper stressed as well.

When reached for comment, a Reddit spokesperson directed us back to Huffman’s post from last week. Under his tenure as CEO — he’s a co-founder who left Reddit to launch a travel startup then came back to replace Pao last year — the company has talked a good game about cleaning up the toxicity and building a real, lasting business. Earlier this week, Reddit took steps to prevent programmatic ads from showing up in places on the site where Pizzagate-like content is discussed.

That may be a Sisyphean task for Huffman and the Reddit leadership. Harper said that fixing Reddit’s community won’t be possible without “completely redoing” the site’s architecture.

Though Reddit has a large audience — according to figures provided by ComScore, Reddit had 46.6 million unique visitors in the U.S. alone last month, a 26 percent year-over-year increase — concerns about its seedier and more hateful elements have given advertisers and ad buyers pause. And because Google and Facebook soak up so much of the ad money spent on digital marketing, Reddit is feeling the same pain as everyone else in digital publishing. In the first quarter of this year, Google and Facebook reportedly collected 85 cents of every new dollar spent on online ads.

Ian Schafer, founder and CEO of the ad agency DeepFocus, said in a message that while he “believes in Reddit,” he doesn’t think it has yet “built a reputation as a brand-safe environment for the biggest spenders.”

After 11 years, Reddit is still waiting to turn its first profit. And as one former Reddit executive pointed out, time spent fixing the Reddit community is time not being spent on making Reddit a better business.

“Managing the Reddit community is hard, because any action to prevent harassment is viewed as an attack on free speech,” the former exec said. “You don’t have much influence on the moderators other than by changing the rules, and the community is resistant to rule changes. At some point, you need to build a sustainable business.”

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