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Latest Dynamics In Fake News and Social Media Manipulation

A recent paper from New York and Stanford academics shows that Facebook could be having some success in stemming the spread of “fake news” stories.

Such disinfo, often of hard-right nature, muddies the water for independent progressive platforms who already struggle to be heard over the noisy bias of the corporate establishment.

As covered by Niemanlab there has been a notable drop in engagement with “fake news” sites since a peak around the end of 2016. Coincidentally or not, this was around the time of the US Presidential Election.

What doesn’t seem to have changed is the high number of videos with a similar presentation and the title “Facebook Watch”, which are of wide-ranging provenance and quality, despite looking roughly as credible as each other on the surface.

But the main home of disinfo seems to have moved to Twitter, where there’s been a roughly 50% in shares of “fake-news” this year.

Obviously, much hangs by how “fake news” is defined. We can’t expect traditional journalism to come under that definition, even if it is manipulated, spun, filtered and prioritised to a corporate/ elite/ conservative agenda. Its defenders will say there is still a degree of fact-checking and sourcing not present in platforms that tend to be more centred on raw fiction, partisan opinion and click-bait. If you though the mainstream was bad, some of the alternatives that people ran to are even worse.

So there seems little room for complacency on any front, despite Facebook’s efforts. The thrill of the new has long since vanished from the internet as a news source. It has presented at least as many problems as it may have addressed. It could be a long uphill battle to build nuance and discernment amongst news consumers in the post-truth age.

Hard-right platforms, often funded by elitists, continue to coalesce in line with a Bannon agenda that is being feted even by the likes of The Economist, who recently featured him at their Open Futures Festival. This agenda seems systemically favoured by the establishment over that of genuine democratic socialism, so there is still much for independent journalism to do in countering the skewed narratives and disinformation in which the establishment and reactionary fakes are drenched.

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