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Fake news emerges as intractable threat to democratic elections

A report by Freedom House, November 14, 2017, reveals that online manipulations and lies influenced elections in at least 18 countries during the last year, hurting the  electorates’ ability to decide on issues and candidates on the basis of truthful information and legitimate debate. The 2016 presidential elections in the U.S. was marred by fake news articles, partisan vitriol and harassment of journalists.

Paid commenters and bloggers are spreading fake news through the social media and the perpetrators have been able to target the attacks to the most susceptible. Much has been done to discredit fake news, but there are those who don’t access the resources while living in isolated social networks. (Mashable, November 14, 2017, by Keith Wagstaff)

A Pew Center survey of experts revealed a split in opinion on the possibility of reigning in fake news. Some think tech and well-meaning and intelligent people will prevail, and the pessimists think fake news appeals to base human instincts and that human brains are not equipped to contend with the speed and clever manipulation of online messaging. (Pew Research Center, October 19, 2017, by Janna Anderson and Lee Rainie)

Federic Filloux in Monday Note, November 12, 2017, reports on an exercise during the Google Newsgeist conference with one session’s participants creating a false news campaign. In twenty minutes they were able to concoct a deadly campaign using Facebook, Twitter and even a routine journalism technique. From here on expect every election to be plagued by fake news.

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