Let’s Talk About Fake News



Let’s Talk About Fake News



By Samantha Schwartz

December 5, 2016

            When I was a kid I was a real gangster. We’re talking going to bed without brushing my teeth, only eating the tops off broccoli stems, and lying to my mom. For whatever psycho reasons a six-year-old can possess, I would lie to my mom’s face, and usually about petty things; like drying the silverware off before putting it away, as if the evidence wouldn’t speak for itself. However, about twenty years later I’m the exact opposite, the truth has set me free! Now the only thing I lie about is liking my old coworker’s ambrosia salad (cringe). The point of me saying all of this is to showcase just how easy it is for a six-year-old to lie let alone most adults. I’m sure you’ve heard all about fake news being in the news; whether they are biased, unbacked Tweets, or conspiracy theories swirling around on Facebook. Either way, a nobody can go to a somebody real fast after they hit send.

            For example, early November, an Austin Twitter user with a mere 40 followers posted an image of travel busses claiming them to be paid Trump protesters. The Tweet circulated and went on to be “shared at least 16,000 times on Twitter and more than 350,000 times on Facebook”. Even the president-elect joined the conversation by tweeting about the said paid protesters. Unfortunately, not before this wildfire could be suffocated, it was found that the busses were in Austin were hired by a company called Tableau Software and were in town for a convention. Fake news is pushing an agenda onto us (cough, cough propaganda) and it is our duty to refute it.

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            Unfortunately, as of December 4th, fake news had real consequences when a man armed with an assault rifle decided to take a conspiracy theory into his own hands. Labeled “Pizza Gate”, the man took the fake news at face value and decided to become a dangerous vigilante a Washington D.C. pizzeria did not ask for nor contend for. While no one was hurt, the armed man was arrested and authorities found two weapons in the pizzeria and one more in his car. With this terrifying event taking place, have we learned our lesson?

            Just from a personal point of view, no one likes being lied to just like my mom didn’t like opening the silverware drawer to find spoons still wet from the dishwasher. It’s just like marketing, no one wants to be lied to and made to feel our intelligence can be belittled. Nor does the marketer want to be viewed as a liar. So keep it positive, because perpetuating falsehoods should only be fun if you’re planning a surprise party and have to lie about why you’re actually cleaning the apartment. Intent matters, knowledge matters, and protecting ourselves from internet six-year olds lying about broccoli.

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