JULIE SANDVIG — Stuff Nobody Says: Defining What ‘Fake News’ Really Is

“It’s now clear that so-called fake news can have real world consequences.” —Hillary Clinton, Dec. 8, 2016.

As shocked as I am that it took Hillary — she’s been the subject of fake news since the ’90s — Clinton this long to acknowledge this, I’m glad she’s talking about it.

First off, let’s stop sugarcoating it by calling it fake news. It’s propaganda. Propaganda has contributed to some of the most horrific human rights abuses in history. I learned about propaganda in high school while learning about the Holocaust. People with a certain agenda start making up stories and calling them truth. They appeal to fear and anger and know if they scare people enough, their stories will get shared.

Propaganda has always been around, but with the onset of social media, it’s now more pervasive than it’s ever been. With freedom of speech at stake, how do we combat propaganda?

We hold those who create the false news stories accountable. And recognize that anyone (yes, anyone) with internet access and 99.00 can own a website, write whatever they want and share it wherever they want.

Some have good intentions, but the propaganda problem comes in when fiction or opinion is presented as news. Who is the creator? What is their motive? Is this true? Is there evidence that this is true? Question everything you share over social media. If it’s your personal opinion? Identify it as your personal opinion.

Where do we start? A gunman walked into a Washington D.C., pizzeria with an assault rifle and fired after reading propaganda about the pizzeria being a cover for  a child-trafficking ring run by the Clintons. This propaganda story was presented as news and shared widely on social media. The man actually believed not only was it true but that he should save the children.

Hillary Clinton, please join forces with the victims of the shooting and sue the creator of the propaganda that led to the attack for libel.

If bloggers want to pass themselves off as journalists, they can be held to the same legal standards.

“Libel: Written or oral defamatory statement or representation that conveys an unjustly unfavorable impression.

b (1) a statement or representation published without just cause and tending to expose another to public contempt (2) defamation of a person by written or representational means (3) the publication of blasphemous, treasonable, seditious, or obscene writings or pictures (4) the act, tort, or crime of publishing such a libel.” — Merriam Webster

Yes, I realize I’m writing this on my blog and sharing it on social media. I thought you should get a little background on “fake news” while you’re inundated by it.

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