Fake News Vs. Satire on the Internet | Miles Trout

person reading the daily fake news newspaper sitting on gray couch
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The propaganda machine keeps the people of the U.S. following the common narratives promoted by the individuals running the show. Often, the general public is compared to sheep. “Sheep-le” follow instruction blindly, doing as they’re told, believing what they have always been taught, behaving the way everyone else does. I think that our citizens are wising up, realizing that CNN, newspapers, magazines, and even radio are being used to manipulate them. And just when we catch on, the rules of the game change.

The internet has quickly replaced television news and periodicals as the main outlet for gaining current news information. While I would like to believe the reason the internet is taking over is for the sake of independent research, the reality is that the internet just makes everything more convenient. Convenience comes at a price.

“Fake news” is a very real aspect of our culture. There is a distinction to be found between “fake news” and satirical news. The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, The Onion, and Above Average are just three examples of satirical news. The individuals who run these programs and websites cut a profit from making jokes about the news and covering stories which often never happened in the first place. I would never want to stop anyone from poking fun at the news, but there are many individuals who believe everything that they read. It is evident when you read their comments on the pages that some people just don’t understand the humor, perpetuating the stories as fact. Those people… are idiots.

I see no ethical issues with satire. It is common knowledge that The Onion is silly and fake. The Onion does not seek to trick its readers, but rather, to entertain them. The ethical issues begin when a story is perpetuated in an attempt to fire-up the audience for a cause, especially if the evidence being reported is fake.

Real danger comes from “fake news.” I would speculate that most “fake news” typically pushes an agenda. Reposting videos with false descriptions, changing written stories, or even blatantly telling lies on the internet causes a problem for us all. I have seen examples of videos that are entirely a fabrication, but usually, it is easy to pick those apart. The videos that scare me are the ones that depict atrocities and are re-titled and described as another circumstance. An example of this was when I saw a video called “Trump’s Muslim Ban in Action.” Police stopped a subway train and were forcibly removing passengers and arresting them. The description said that it took place in New York City, and the police were following orders to begin mass deportation. Closer inspection found the events took place in Canada and the individuals were actually the targets of a manhunt.

Now, to address the “meme” above. This picture appeared in my Facebook feed. The image seems to be real and frightening. The reason the image seems to be real is that, as a matter of fact, it IS REAL. With just a few minutes of research using Google, I found a statement that was released by The Wall Street Journal regarding this post.

“Yes, the images represent two different editions, published at different times, and the headlines represent the news at the time of publication — before and after his speech.” Colleen Schwartz, the Vice President of Communications at The Wall Street Journal told Snopes.com. The Wall Street Journal could have avoided these accusations if they used a different photo for the cover of the evening edition, but that’s neither here nor there.

The moral of the story is not to believe everything you see on the internet. Memes are being used as manipulation the same as any other form of media. Do your homework, follow your instincts, and most importantly, think for yourself. Just a few minutes of research and keeping your wits about you can prevent you from falling for “fake news.”

Below is a link to a video that can help you identify “fake news.”