The real problem with fake news… is news.

Yesterday, I was asked to appear on a CBC lunchtime call in show to discuss the issue of fake news during election time. Apparently, Vancouver-based polling firm Research Co recently conducted a poll in which two out of five Canadians reported that they had seen “fake news” online. In this case, Research Co defined “fake news” as “stories about current affairs that were obviously false”.

Now we can take Research Co to task for their imprecise definition of fake news here. Many Donald Trump supporters, for example, think that mainstream and reputable news outlets report stories that are “obviously false” and unfortunately, truth seems to rest in the eye of the beholder these days. However, that’s a much longer discussion for another blog post.

What I’d like to do today, is assume that we are seeing false, exaggerated, or misleading news more often than we used to, and I’d like to look at one important driver of misinformation during this particular Canadian election, using the recent rumours about Justin Trudeau, our current Prime Minister as a sort of case study of the ways media manipulators try to bait established media outlets to spread rumour and innuendo.

“This Soup is So Fake” by cogdogblog is licensed under CC0 1.0

Continue reading “The real problem with fake news… is news.”

The real problem with fake news… is news.

This Week In Tech News: Orwellian Doublethink

The last week has been filled with announcements from big tech firms:

Facebook tells us “the future is private“.

Google tells us they’re “here to help“.

Amazon tell us it’s a friend to small businesses.

"War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery Ignorance is Strength"  by Nney is licensed under  CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
“War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery Ignorance is Strength” by Nney is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

In developers’ conferences and earnings calls, the biggest of the big tech companies are trying to develop unique value propositions that paint them as friendly, responsive, and attuned to the needs of their customers. Then the mainstream technology media (often overworked, understaffed and reliant on the good graces of big tech for continued access to stories), generally reports these messages at face value. News in the last week focused on Facebook’s pivot toward community groups, Google’s exciting universal translator or Amazon’s claim that small and medium sized business partners made on average 90K last year through their platform.

Continue reading “This Week In Tech News: Orwellian Doublethink”

This Week In Tech News: Orwellian Doublethink

A Level Playing Field? Social Media Logic and the Breakdown of Democratic Communication

When the participatory web was new, activists and researchers alike were excited by the potential of this new medium to connect groups without the need for conventional gatekeepers. Because social media allows anyone to post information that anyone (everyone) else can theoretically access, it changed the broadcast model of communication from a one to many (or point to multi-point) to a many to many (or multi-point to multi-point) system. Initially, this change delivered on its promise, facilitating movements like #occupy, #idlenomore, and #blacklivesmatter. More recently, however, even though social media still connects people and facilitates some political organization, it has also revealed its darker side.

A handwritten protest sign, reading: The revolution will not be televised but it will be downloaded and streamed live
Protest Sign05 by a.mina. Available from Flikr: https://flic.kr/p/audzig

 

Continue reading “A Level Playing Field? Social Media Logic and the Breakdown of Democratic Communication”

A Level Playing Field? Social Media Logic and the Breakdown of Democratic Communication