Friday, December 16, 2016

Big Zuckerberg is Watching You

So how are you doing on the fake news front? Big Zuckerberg is watching you:
Facebook is taking a major step to appease its mostly liberal post-election critics, who charged that disinformation that proliferated on its platform affected the election outcome (read: helped elect a candidate they oppose).
Fake news leads to false consciousness, you see. The danger is obvious, as Jason Willick writes for the American Interest:
But conservatives are already raising concerns that the new regime will go far beyond its stated aims, and for good reason. In the wake of the election, Clinton supporters eager to blame ostensibly less enlightened people for her loss and media mandarins distressed about the collapse of their authority expanded the definition of “fake news” to include any content they found politically objectionable. The Washington Post published a hysterical report decrying the supposedly vast influence of fake news that relied on a now-discredited report that used broad and opaque criteria to dismiss partisan news sites as “Russian propaganda.” The anti-fake news crusade, in other words, has gathered momentum in part by exploiting all of the same human impulses that can make actual propaganda so potent in the first place—tribalism, hysteria, and confirmation bias.
My social media feed is replete these days with tribalism, hysteria, and confirmation bias. People who regularly congratulate themselves on their compassion for those less fortunate than they are have turned into modern-day Menckens overnight, demanding the ungrateful wretches who voted for Trump get something good and hard, especially poor white people who live in benighted places like, well, most of the country. I don't think we'll see less of that on Facebook, though.

The larger problem, as Willick notes, is that the commissars Facebook is deputizing aren't necessarily neutral, either:
And then there is the fact that some of the fact-checkers Facebook has enlisted to help with its effort—most notably, PolitiFact—have a clear record of bias against conservative viewpoints, rating as “true” or “false” statements that are essentially expressions of opinion and then casually mixing their own predispositions with objective facts in a way that tends to subject the Right to greater scrutiny. Not that these fact-checkers favor the far-Left—their partisanship is more often one of “sober-minded Democratic centris[m],” as Nathan Johnson has written.
I'm not convinced the worldview of the self-appointed sober-minded is actually true, but we'll leave that aside. I decided a long time ago to keep my politics away from Facebook and other social media sites, primarily because I'd rather not fight with people I like for reasons other than their political views. It can be a slog to sift through the Occupy Democrats photomemes and similar detritus to get to the grandchildren pics that I really want to see, but it's worth doing. A working scroll bar makes a big difference.

The endgame is obvious -- back to Willick:
If elites in business, government, and media respond to reports about the real but limited problem of “fake news” by de-legitimizing non-liberal opinions more broadly, they will simply undermine their authority further and reinforce the problem they are hoping to solve.
Good and hard, I would imagine. More at the link.

1 comment:

Carol Fey said...

Hi Mark--New Brighton city manager Dean Lotter has applied to be city manager of my city. We citizens want to find out who he really is and how he works with citizens. Would you email me at or phone/text 303-793-2679?