No fake news disaster hits midterms yet huge challenges remain

With a dearth of massive internet attacks and hacking offenses during the midterms, the most serious threats were the “familiar false new narratives and clumsy, easily debunkable hoaxes.” The problem is that the propaganda, “hyper-partisan news” and false information is polluting the news stream. Add to that the fact that “the pathway from the online fringes to the mainstream is clear and powerful — a pipeline where the phrase ‘jobs not mobs’ can go from an obscure viral tweet to a full-fledged party slogan in a matter of hours. The cycle is just as efficient in reverse, especially on the right, where Trump’s Twitter feed serves as an assignment editor for both a loyal press as well as the traditional media ecosystem, which funnels catchphrases like ‘the media is the enemy of the people’ into the cultural lexicon.” (BuzzFeed, November 7, 2018, by Charlie Warzel)

Same old, same old political hoaxes pollute social media during midterm elections. Most hoaxes were impotent, but some repeat hoaxes proliferated including the one claiming George Soros’ company rigged voting machine for Democratic candidates. (Poynter Institute, November 13, 2018, by Daniel Funke)

Overall there were fewer fake stories going viral during the midterms than during the 201 presidential election. Facebook intently removed fraudulent stories and far-right  trolls were complaining they could not get fake news about the voting day to take off on Twitter. The worst junk news may be in decline, but there is still plenty of propaganda and partisan lies that need fact-checking. (Poynter Institute, November 8, 2018, by Daniel Funke and Alexios Mantzarlis)


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