Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter



All the Fake News Unfit to Print

Sam Sokol

The claim that Donald Trump pushed fake news to aid his election to the White House has put the nefarious practice front and center

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

 Mishpacha image

Photo: Shutterstock

W

hat is fake news?

 While in recent months many political pundits have latched on to the concept of fake news to delegitimize opposing viewpoints, in essence what fake news means is “reporting” that intentionally misleads or, very often, completely fabricates events, quotes, and statistics for partisan reasons.

Why is this a problem and how is it any different from newspapers that practice yellow journalism?

Americans’ increasing disillusionment with the mainstream press coupled with their growing tendency to get their news on social networks means that alternate news outlets are gaining market share at an alarming rate. Most people do not read articles fully before sharing and we are, by nature, more credulous of material shared by friends and family. Certainly, living in social media “echo chambers” in which our views are constantly reinforced, coupled with historically high levels of political partisanship, hasn’t helped things.

Did fake news really swing the election as Hillary Clinton supporters claim?

Nobody knows just how big a role fake news played, but it certainly helped to create an atmosphere that was not conducive to an open political dialogue, exacerbating existing rifts and radicalizing people on both sides of the spectrum. According to a recent study undertaken by Ipsos on behalf of BuzzFeed News, 75% of Americans believe fake news stories, while hyper-partisan web pages such as Occupy Democrats and Right Wing News consistently outperformed credible media outlets during the election season.

 

But at least politicians have good sources of news, right?

Not always, unfortunately. The New York Times recently reported on several instances of members of the Trump transition team sharing or believing fake news stories. Team members such as Monica Crowley have accused Hillary Clinton of murdering a former party staffer while both incoming National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn and his son, who was fired from team Trump, have both shared information about PizzaGate on social networks. Trump himself has shared false statistics about millions of illegal aliens voting.

And while the Clinton campaign has not been implicated in sharing fake news, many voters on the left have pushed fabricated stories, such as reports that Trump would ban Muslims from the military or that the Russians had rigged online polls in favor of the Republican candidate.

What is this PizzaGate thing we’ve been hearing about?

PizzaGate, a bizarre and unsubstantiated online conspiracy theory that has become popular among critics of Hillary Clinton, charges that high-ranking members of the Democratic party would regularly gather at the Comet, a Washington D.C. pizzeria as part of an underground child-abuse ring. The rumors, which gained steam on Internet message boards and were shared by fake news sites, almost turned tragic when Edgar Welch, an Internet conspiracy aficionado, drove up from North Carolina to Washington with an assault rifle in order to “self-investigate” the reports he read online. While nobody was killed in the incident, it clearly illustrated the dangers of fake news in the Internet age.

Related Stories

Look for the Pink

F. Jakabovits

Granddaughter of the previous Amshinover Rebbe and mother of the present Rebbe, Rebbetzin Chaya Nech...

Israel on a Tightrope?

Ariel Ben Solomon

Barack Obama’s final slap-in-the face legacy won’t be so easy to untangle, according to Dr. Eran Ler...

Early Risers

Rochel Burstyn

These five entrepreneurs started their businesses very young and today have flourishing companies. W...

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.
CAPTCHA
Message


MM217
 
Evolution vs. Revolution
Shoshana Friedman I call it the “what happened to my magazine?” response
Up, Up, and Away
Rabbi Moshe Grylak What a fraught subject Eretz Yisrael is, to this day
Where Do You Come From?
Yonoson Rosenblum Could they be IDF officers with no Jewish knowledge?
Heaven Help Us
Eytan Kobre Writing about anti-Semitism should rouse, not soothe
Work/Life Solutions with Chedva Kleinhandler
Moe Mernick “Failures are our compass to success”
An Un-Scientific Survey
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman Are Jerusalemites unfriendly? Not necessarily
Out of Anger
Jacob L. Freedman How Angry Lawyer was finally able to calm down
5 Things You Didn’t Know about…Yitzy Bald
Riki Goldstein He composed his first melody at eight years old
When the Floodgates of Song Open, You’re Never Too Old
Riki Goldstein Chazzan Pinchas Wolf was unknown until three years ago
Who Helped Advance These Popular Entertainers?
Riki Goldstein Unsung deeds that boosted performers into the limelight
Your Task? Ask
Faigy Peritzman A tangible legacy I want to pass on to my children
Are You There?
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Emotional withdrawal makes others feel lonely, abandoned
A Peace of a Whole
Rebbetzin Debbie Greenblatt Love shalom more than you love being right
Seminary Applications
Rabbi Zecharya Greenwald, as told to Ariella Schiller It’s just as hard for seminaries to reject you