Opinion, Politics, World

Fake News and Radical Politics: My Fake is your Treasure

Let’s make Social Media great again. Oh, have we become an indifferent lot. Whenever I log into Facebook, it becomes an increasing chore to wade through the massive amount of fake news, witch-hunts, and nonsense floating through my stream. Shared by distant uncles, friends and that one hippie that lives off the bark of dead trees because everything else would be murder.

Social decay? I sure can attest that. I don’t even have horrible Social Media connections. Minimal trash, unless that hippie has choked himself to death. I don’t mind the cute doggy videos, awe-inspiring travel videos or just mind-numbing content; it’s the fake news that bothers me. We have become so indifferent to the news that it hurts all my senses when I see another person share another bullshit story. I’d love to get into some good old Conservatives bashing right about now, but it’s a double-edged sword. I have seen horrible mistakes on both sides of the political spectrum, though they indeed seem to occur more often on the right side. Most of them are 40+ with an average IQ that slightly undercuts aforementioned tree bark.

My Treasure, Your Fake

The problem is, we all have an opinion, unfortunately. What makes it worse is that we always want to be right and we love ourselves some good old sensationalism. That’s the reason why especially the outer edges of the political spectrum seem extremely vulnerable to fake news. They’re already dealing with pretty clean cut and over-the-top beliefs in some cases without the addition of atrocious misinformation. Feeding into sensationalism while delivering the all so satisfactory validation of one’s belief. It’s a drug. I can even relate to that in a way. However, what I cannot understand or empathize with is the painfully obvious indifference to swallow everything that is in accordance with our own opinions without even reflecting on it.

Most of us seem to be selectively critical of news we don’t approve of. It’s really easy for people on the left to discredit obvious right-wing fake news and the other way around. However, living in our cozy filter bubbles – we never care to challenge our own believes enough to evolve outside our social media news shell. We are circling the drain of fake news. Seen an article about how Donald Trump is the best president ever? Better not ask or click, just share. Can’t be clickbait or fake news, because you know it’s true right?

Fake News: A Flourishing Business

You may now ask yourself why fake news even exist. Are they a devious Russian influence machine? Is it a mischievious cyber cold war with the reds again? Oh if anything was ever as complicated as our favorite conspiracy theories would lead us to believe. The real reason is the easy money of course.

Sensationalism and the joy of being right – fake news specifically target audiences they know will click, share and bring revenue to their site. And some of them really don’t even seem to care what they write. Want a taste? How about this story on how the Hollywood elite killed Justin Bieber’s unborn child. In case this link disappears (and let’s be honest, it may at some point) here is a nice citation:

WARNING: Explicit Written Content Ahead

“Describing a top-secret party attended by record industry executives, Bieber said he was shown into a back room where a group of men wearing masks were sitting around the edge of the room, drinking from cups. In the center of the room a dead child was sitting cross-legged, propped up against the back of a chair. It looked like a late-stage fetus and was completely drained of blood.”

– Baxter Dmitry, yournewswire.com

Fake News is Easy Money

You may disgustingly agree with me that this is utter garbage. However, it has been shared and reacted to thousands of times, creating a nice revenue stream for the creators.

It is an automatic money machine. It taps into fears and political views and it doesn’t need research or fact-based writing. You make it up in one go, and you can rake in thousands off of that through sharing it with people vulnerable. In times where the political landscape is split into very radical camps, it’s even easier as long as the right groups are directly targeted.

The unfortunate part of the story: there is not much we can do except learning to be critical of all content we come across online, even if it reflects our worldviews. Think triple before sharing something and don’t only confront people that think different, but especially people that think alike. Making it easy for fake news to circulate is not only dangerous for the political landscape, but it means financing borderline criminal behavior and highly influential fake news reporting.

About Andreas Salmen

Born and raised in Germany, learned a job in IT and Business and ultimately decided that this wasn't exactly where my life was going to end. Left everything behind to become a writing backpacker instead. The world's crumbling away anyway so why not write about it and get a few good Instagram pics on the way, am I right?

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