What's so bad about fake news sites?

Facebook, Google, crack down on fake news

So what’s the problem here? Fake news has been a staple of the internet for years, with The Onion turning it into a goldmine. Sometimes people are fooled into thinking it’s real, as has happened memorably with a few Onion stories. But you can’t protect fools from themselves. I have a nasty suspicion that the only fake news sites in the crosshairs of Google and Facebook will be conservative ones, and that should worry you whether you’re on the left or the right.

And, yes, I know The Onion is hilarious and most of the other sites suck at humor, but that can’t be a criterion either for killing ads on some sites and not on others.

There are conservative fake news sites? Do they jokingly report on how Obama founded ISIS? If so, political reality has made them obsolete.

There’s a difference between a satire site and a fake news site. The Onion and others are trying to make people laugh, not trying to get them to believe BS.

This is about sites who don’t try to do humor at all. Just create fake articles with click-baity headlines to go viral and make advertising money.

There is a vast gulf between trying to protect fools from themselves and instead bombarding them constantly with unattributed fiction in the guise of facts. Most people know the Onion for what it is. That is because they have developed a brand. Whereas a thousand unknown sites publishing false statements are not immediately identifiable as “fake news sites”. People read it, read it again, then read it again, pretty soon it becomes fact in their mind.

I think the difference is that The Onion is clearly satire, while the others are just fake news without the obvious satire and disclaimers.

In other words, the fake news sites are basically trying to fool people into thinking these are real stories, and then scuttling behind the cloak of satire when confronted, while The Onion isn’t doing that at all.

Right, the goal of the Onion is to make people laugh. The goal of fake news sites is to confuse the issues so that their preferred candidate is elected. Satire vs propaganda.

Politifact looked at a bad example of fake news here : http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2016/nov/14/blog-posting/no-donald-trump-not-beating-hillary-clinton-popula/

And I’d point to the Clinton email brouhaha as another example I’ve observed in person. Well-meaning people who seem at least semi-well-informed said things like “I don’t understand why she’s not in jail” to me.

Common thread, when I ask why they think so? Facebook.

I do take the point that The Onion is trying to make people laugh, and it’s very good at that. It takes potshots at both sides but it can’t be denied that it has a liberal bias. My worry is that conservative humor sites which deal in fake news (and believe it or not there are some) will be targeted along with right-wing clickbait sites. I guess we shall see.

The fake news sites I keep seeing on Facebook are not political, but sponsored sidebar ads announcing phony celebrity deaths (Hugh Hefner, John Goodman, etc.). I assume this is simple clickbait; I can’t imagine why else they would actually pay to have this nonsense posted.

My mother started sharing links to these sites on Facebook during the final months of the election. It drove me crazy. I would tell her to please make sure whatever she shares is actually true by checking more established sites, and she would agree, but it would not stop her. It was weird.

As has been noted, things like the Onion are clearly satire - and while people fall for their stories occasionally, they’ve never pretended they’re a serious news outlet doing proper journalism.

But “fake” news sites - designed for clickbait/propaganda/ad revenue/etc is a problem because people believe the bullshit on them and make decisions based on it.

Worse, it harms actual, professional journalists because people lose respect for the media even further, making it harder for journalists to do their jobs reporting on things which do matter.

Yes. And notice that the propaganda-and/or-clickbait articles are never about entities that could and would fight back: people would certainly click on articles titled “Walmart About to Declare Bankruptcy” or “McDonalds Admits Using Dogmeat in Big Macs”—those articles would generate lots of ad revenue. But the companies would sue.

Fake news about whatever politicians someone wants to smear, though–that’s a fairly safe dirty trick to play. Well, so far, anyway-- the companies exploited for that purpose, such as Facebook, might decide the practice is worth combating.

The backlash against that would be enormous. What facebook and google should now be targeting are these dorm-room operations that only costs a little to run, since all they do is fake and aggregate news, yet rake in a substantial profit, since they are being paid American level add money in a struggling East-European economy. How Teens In The Balkans Are Duping Trump Supporters With Fake News

This one has me stumped. False information has been around elections for as long as the US has been a country - and we probably didn’t invent it. What is different this time is the speed this false information spreads and is received as fact.

Many of the fake news sites have essentially true content but lack context and have a headline that is disproportionate to the actual content.

But, is this the new normal where we will elect the best liars? If someone wants to vote based on false information, do they have that right? Even if they don’t, who decides what to remove.

Maybe President Trump will outlaw lying.

I think part of it was that back in the day, there weren’t fake newspapers or radio stations broadcasting clearly false information. That would be the latter-day equivalent of what’s happening today.

A lot of people out there don’t have that deeply ingrained skepticism of Internet-sourced information that most of us Dopers do.

So where you or me might see a Facebook post saying something fake about Democrats, we’re going to be inherently suspicious, even if it’s from a trusted person, and a professional looking website, unless it’s from a well-known news source, and even then, we’ll probably judge its merits by the bias of the source.

But someone like my mom will put a lot of weight on the sender and on the platform, and assume that if it’s on Facebook (if she read Facebook), and from someone whose opinion she trusts, she’ll assume it’s true, especially if it’s from a news-ish looking site.

She’s not at all unusual in this regard. People still fall for Nigerian prince email scams, and all the various phishing emails regarding tech support, etc…

What makes anyone think that the same crowd is going to be any better at figuring out even more sophisticated misinformation given a veneer of legitimacy by virtue of social media friendships?

Political interests had their own newspapers in the early days of the Republic. ’

I don’t blame Martha; from Mount Vernon:

I heard an item on NPR over the weekend that said the most shared political article on Facebook during this cycle was the Pope endorsing Trump.

While people voting based on misinformation bothers me, I have yet to hear of a solution that doesn’t bother me more with its first amendment implications.

Your worry is that conservative voters will have their supply of bullshit news cut off. Not that it matters – they have a wild imagination and tend to believe whatever they want anyway.