Fake News for the Week Ending October 9, 2020

I suppose it’s no surprise that the volume of fake news news is increasing geometrically as we get closer to the November 3rd election. (And not all of it is Trump-related, either.) Let’s get to it.

  • Which news media you listen to determines your reaction to the facts of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. A Pew Research study found that, in general, 61% of the public feels that the U.S. has not controlled the outbreak as much as it should have. However, for Republicans who only watch Fox News or listen to right-wing talk radio, only 9% feel the U.S. hasn’t done a good job; 90% think we’ve controlled the outbreak as much as we could have. For Republicans who supplement the right-wing media with other news sources, that 9% disapproval number goes way up to 35%. And 53% of Republicans who don’t listen to right-wing sources at all (relying, instead on CNN, NPR, and the major national newspapers) say things are going to hell in a handbasket. In other words, relying solely on right-wing media for your news definitely influences your opinion on how we’re dealing with the coronavirus crisis. Fox News and their radio colleagues are telling their followers that everything is just fine, when it obviously isn’t (as reported by all other news outlets). We need to wean viewers and listeners away from the right-wing news bubble so they can get the whole unbiased picture. Read more from Pew Research.
  • Elaborating on that last piece, Time magazine has an in-depth article on how voters in key battleground states are plagued by a plethora of misinformation. The author says these citizens are victims of “unlogic,” which he defines as not ignorance or stupidity, but rather reason distorted by suspicion and misinformation. Examples are “believing that most reports about the President were fabricated by lying reporters (they aren’t) or that Biden is a socialist (he isn’t) or that the coronavirus is no worse than the flu, as Trump keeps insisting (it’s far more deadly).” Read the whole article here.
  • A virtual shitstorm of conspiracy theories is pounding the shores of reason following President Trump’s positive COVID-19 diagnosis and resulting hospital stay. This is due to the historical inability of the Trump administration (and Mr. Trump himself) to tell the truth about just about anything, as well as the administration’s not fully disclosing information about the president and his condition. When you lie about everything, nobody’s going to believe anything you say. Read about it from BuzzFeed.
  • Following his hospital stay, President Trump claimed that COVID-19 is less deadly than the flu. That simply isn’t true; COVID-19 is several times more deadly than the seasonal flu. Both Facebook and Twitter removed Trump’s posts with this fallacious claim. NPR does the reporting.
  • After last week’s so-called presidential debate (which was neither presidential or a true debate), the Trump campaign has been running ads featuring fake images of Joe Biden wearing an ear piece. That’s not spin, folks, it’s lying. CNN has the story.
On the left, Joe Biden without an ear piece — or what we call “reality.” On the right, the doctored image as presented in a Trump campaign ad.
  • Facebook removed all groups and pages affiliated with the insane right-wing QAnon conspiracy theory. This ban affected accounts on both Facebook and Instagram, which should go a long way in slowing the spread of this dangerous nonsense. The Washington Post has the story.
  • Twitter is building a new tool called “Birdwatch” which is designed to identify disinformation and propaganda by adding context to its tweets. Read about it at TechCrunch.
  • The Department of Homeland Security identified Russia as the key disinformation threat ahead of the upcoming election. Read about it from The Hill.
  • The U.S. Air Force and Special Operations Command are working to train a neural net to detect disinformation. It’s using artificial intelligence to battle fake news and, if it works, that’s a very good thing. Get the whole story at Defense One.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s