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Old 26 January 2018, 12:03 PM
Richard W's Avatar
Richard W Richard W is offline
 
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Default Experience: I write fake news

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeands...rite-fake-news

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I’ve been writing articles for far-right websites in the US for a year now. I didn’t set out to do this; it started in October 2016, when I was finishing my PhD in London.

[...]

Recently, we’ve tried to boost the site up the Google rankings. This involves writing for other sites that are visited by gun enthusiasts, a lot of them pretty extreme, and sneaking in a link to our own site. This is against their rules, so you have to hide the link deep in the middle of a dense paragraph, so no one notices.

I write articles arguing that banning bump stocks, which enable semi-automatic guns to fire more rapidly, won’t prevent mass shootings and that the left skews statistics. I believe the opposite to be true. I vehemently disagree with what I write, and with the sites I write for. [...]

But I don’t have a moral problem with it.
Quite a lot to be getting on with in there - it's worth reading the whole thing...! He suggests at the end that because propaganda is nothing new ("what were Der Stürmer, Pravda and Trajan’s Column, if not fake news?") that it's therefore morally neutral, which seems a non-sequitur to me.

(eta) Weirdly, the article hits so many potential sore points ("I don’t think people have died as a result of my work"; the idea that this extreme pro-gun stuff is secretly written by liberals for their own agenda) that it reads like a troll in itself, and makes me wonder whether the person writing the article itself is real! But somebody has to write those gun articles and other "fake news", though.

Last edited by Richard W; 26 January 2018 at 12:09 PM.
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Old 26 January 2018, 09:52 PM
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Brad from Georgia Brad from Georgia is offline
 
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Is this the journalist who wrote about Nutella?
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  #3  
Old 26 January 2018, 11:42 PM
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crocoduck_hunter crocoduck_hunter is online now
 
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I'm sure that the vast majority of people creating fake news don't believe it, but this reads like a smear job more than a legit story.
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Old 27 January 2018, 12:59 AM
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Veruca Veruca is offline
 
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Originally Posted by Richard W View Post
He suggests at the end that because propaganda is nothing new ("what were Der Stürmer, Pravda and Trajan’s Column, if not fake news?") that it's therefore morally neutral, which seems a non-sequitur to me.
Yeah, that argument is pretty bizarre. "What I'm doing is no worse that what Nazi propagandists did! So...it's not that bad, right?"

As to whether or not the article is believable, nothing jumped out as difficult to believe for me. I've written for content mills before, although none with any particular political bent, so at least I never had to make racist arguments or anything like that. But yes, I am familiar with the trick of registering fake accounts and writing posts that include a link to whatever you're trying to hype, and other shady stuff like that.

I think this article poses an interesting question - how much does our current problem with fake stories and propaganda overlap with the whole "content mils are ruining the internet" issue? I'd always assumed that political lies are passed on by people who either earnestly believe them, or are deliberately spreading them towards some political end. I hadn't considered all the content writers who may actively disagree or just not care about the issues, but are happy to churn the stories out for money.
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Old 27 January 2018, 02:27 AM
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Richard W Richard W is offline
 
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Originally Posted by Brad from Georgia View Post
Is this the journalist who wrote about Nutella?
No, apparently that actually happened...
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  #6  
Old 27 January 2018, 02:38 AM
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Richard W Richard W is offline
 
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Originally Posted by Veruca View Post
I hadn't considered all the content writers who may actively disagree or just not care about the issues, but are happy to churn the stories out for money.
But in the end, those are probably most of the people... and they might well always have been. Even the "mainstream media" (what's the initialism - MSM?) has always been full of people who claim they don't believe what they're writing, but do so because it sells. That's been a traditional excuse for educated tabloid journalists in the UK for decades. (And most journalists, tabloid or otherwise, are educated).

So it's always come back to being able to think for yourself. In that sense, you've to look at the people who want to fund education, to help people to think for themselves, against the people who don't want to do this.

There's this stupid argument these days that being "told" anything means you're not thinking, and therefore you're being misled somehow. That should be a nonsensical conspiracy theory, but it seems not to be at the moment; the people who put across this point of view seem to have far more power than their supposed "outsider" perspective would suggest, and also far more than makes sense given the crap they generally talk.
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