Please find time today to read the Washington Post story about how Russia was behind the spate of fake news during the US election.
It doesn’t matter which candidate you preferred or even if you’re American, this should scare you.
It scares me! I spent most of my life as a journalist and I know how a well crafted story can sway opinions. A well-timed one can change minds. And that was true before the rise of the machines (ie internet) and before social media became the primary source of “information” for so many.
You may not have watched RT or Russia Today but I have and it’s slick and it has great graphics and none of the anchors “talk funny” and if you don’t pay close attention, you wouldn’t have the faintest idea that they are a propaganda tool for the government. Just the way they phrase stories, the lack of critical thinking, the lack of international perspective.
A lot of people would say the same thing about CNN and while that’s true for their domestic service, their international service is much better.
All governments, all corporations, all individuals try to sway the public to their way of thinking, to create allies, to get their message out. That can be benign–like “Dogs are man’s best friend”, or annoying–like “Will Brad and Jen get back together again?” or downright lies–like ” Platform shoes are comfortable.” Propaganda is deliberately misleading or biased and that’s what dictators are great at. That’s what we have to guard against.
That means leaving the echo chamber, not getting all your news from Facebook, read something on the BBC or the Guardian or from a news source (by that I mean one that actually employs journalists) with which you don’t agree.
It’s the duty of every citizen of the world.
If there are “deplorables”, they are willfully ignorant and Thomas Jefferson would turn over in his grave: “If we are to guard against ignorance and remain free, it is the responsibility of every American to be informed.”