Yet despite such optimistic views, trust in the media is still low (at 27 percent for newspapers according to the report) and new research that surveyed 19,000 American adults age 18 and older shows that people struggle with navigating through the abundance of information.
The past year was a somber one for democracies around the world, as distaste for political institutions and political elites reached a breaking point. Brexit triumphed over common sense, and united defense, in England. Extreme right-wing politicians continued their march to power in continental Europe. And the U.S. Electoral College victory of Donald Trump secured the election of a populist demagogue who openly criticizes the democratic system.
A parent or teacher might wonder at the world of cyberthieves and hackers and think, “If only they used all that brain power for something positive.”
On Tuesday, White Ops, a security company that specializes in tracking online advertising, released an astonishing report about a ring of thieves based in Russia that created a huge number of fake news sites meant to look like real news sites and hundreds of thousands of bots meant to act like real users.
This is FRESH AIR. I’m Dave Davies in for Terry Gross. So do you remember reading that Hillary Clinton paid Jay Z and Beyonce $62 million dollars for performing at a rally in Cleveland before the election? You might have, but the story is false, one of many posted on hyper-partisan websites and spread by aggressive social media campaigns during the presidential election.
We hear a lot about the many things that are disrupting the American workplace: the decline of manufacturing, demographics, globalization, automation and, especially, technology. And it’s true — all of those are roiling the world of work, not just in America but worldwide.
I remember when I didn’t have opinions about everything. There were many, many events that happened in the world, and I was either blissfully unaware or simply an observer without much of a reaction at all.
Working in the news business, I pay pretty close attention to what’s going on both locally and around the world. With television news, traditional newspapers, Twitter, Facebook and even Snapchat, there’s an unlimited number of places I can learn more about what’s going on in the world, ranging from celebrity gossip to the tragedies currently taking place in Syria.
Eric Tucker, a 35-year-old co-founder of a marketing company in Austin, Tex., had just about 40 Twitter followers. But his recent tweet about paid protesters being bused to demonstrations against President-elect Donald J. Trump fueled a nationwide conspiracy theory — one that Mr. Trump joined in promoting.
We all know the drill: There is a guaranteed consequence for not telling the truth. We have learned this early on in the popular parlor game that has kept us entertained at parties and get-togethers during our younger years. And even back then, there were occasions when we intentionally opted for the consequence, no matter how ridiculously difficult it was, because truth has its way of making us uncomfortable.
Something is deeply wrong when the pope’s voice, reputation and influence can be borrowed by a source that describes itself as “a fantasy news site” to claim that he has endorsed a presidential candidate, and then be amplified, unchallenged, through a million individual shares.
The attention paid to fake news since the election has focused largely on fabrications and outright lies, because they are indefensible, easy to identify and extraordinarily viral. Fake news is created by the kinds of people who, when asked, might call their work satire, or admit that they’re in it for the money or for the thrill of deception. Theirs is a behavior that can and should be shunned, and that Facebook is equipped, and maybe willing, to deal with.