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Identifying fake news stories

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Mr. Bill:
Even firsthand reports by seemingly sincere people on social media may be fiction.  Here's an interesting "attempted child abduction" from my region, which seems to have been a mom who had a paranoid moment and then embellished the story for Facebook with all sorts of imaginary details.  The police have posted screencaps of the originals (which have now been deleted along with the mom's Facebook account), plus their description of how her story collapsed when they interviewed her.

Pasco Police, 9/17/19: JUST THE FACTS ABOUT THE WALMART LURING CASE


--- Quote ---...No attempted luring occurred. The original poster reported that they were alarmed by the number of men inside the Walmart on Friday evening, on their cell phones, who looked at the poster’s 12-year-old daughter. The poster implies that the men were part of a sex trafficking ring. In particular, the man described as following them around the store is actually shown on security video to be stationary, playing on his phone, glancing up at the poster and girl, stepping out of their way, and resuming standing there, playing on his phone. ...

The poster admitted “embellishing a lot” of the story when reinterviewed by police. The poster admitted lying about contacting the police because the poster feared being judged harshly by commenters if the poster did not claim to have already contacted the police. The call to the non-emergency line and the entire conversation the poster paraphrases never took place. ...
--- End quote ---

Carver:
A lot of compelling arguments in this topic but not substantial information on how to identify fake news. It starts out with a list of sources that portray themselves as news, but aren't, or only partly. The lesson is to look at the source and make a judgement based on your opinion of the credibility of that source. I don't trust that method.

I learned distrust of "news" about the age of 14 when an event I was involved in was exaggerated in a news story for the purpose of teaching a lesson. It was a lesson that was a good one but it was made by telling a lie about what really happened. But the lie justified the lesson. I learned more from the lie than the lesson.

No news source is telling the truth; truth defined as that being a narrative that accurately describes an event as the next best thing as being there. The problem with that is that being there isn't a reliable source either. I've experienced being an eyewitness to an event to find out that I was dead wrong on what I thought had occurred.

So how do we process incoming information of what's happening? My current strategy is to try to put it into context of historical trends and possibilities. But that is solely based upon personal interpretation of what I have learned about it from what I consider tainted and biased sources and my knowledge of history and my ability to predict.

Almost any event of major proportions or consequences is quickly followed up by numerous intriguing and conflicting "tin-foil hat" conspiracy theories, and some sources are well known for spewing those theories and are routinely discredited and ignored. But if those theories are conceivable, are they possible? Do they contribute to constructing a description of a reality that occurred is will occur?

If there is one event that has me totally bamboozled it is the 9/11 attack. What really happened? The conflicting evidence cannot be resolved. For some it is the JFK assassination, or Pearl Harbor, or any number of red flag events. How does one know? I've come to the conclusion that I can't know and that the more important question to ask of myself is "why or how does it matter to me?". More often than not, the answer is "It doesn't", which I am not satisfied with.

Mr. Bill:

--- Quote from: Carver on February 03, 2020, 08:15:41 PM ---A lot of compelling arguments in this topic but not substantial information on how to identify fake news. It starts out with a list of sources that portray themselves as news, but aren't, or only partly. The lesson is to look at the source and make a judgement based on your opinion of the credibility of that source. I don't trust that method. ...

--- End quote ---

When I started this thread (argh, May 2016 feels like ancient history!), the term "fake news" meant something different: stories that were fictional -- created for entertainment, or for screwing with people's heads for fun, or for making people look gullible.  You could protect yourself (a bit) by researching the source.

Nowadays, even the term "fake news" has become fake news.

Docwatmo:
It's far easier to go on the assumption that if it comes from mass media, it's fake news until verified by your own research.   ;D

Mr. Bill:

--- Quote from: Docwatmo on February 04, 2020, 08:18:17 AM ---It's far easier to go on the assumption that if it comes from mass media, it's fake news until verified by your own research.   ;D

--- End quote ---

I figure, if a story is reported by mainstream media...

* The basic facts they're reporting are, probably, approximately correct.
* They've probably omitted a whole lot of other basic facts.
* They have designed the story as clickbait.  The title and most of the story will emphazise anything that causes fear and/or outrage.
* They will dig up "two sides" even when there is no controversy, in order to make better clickbait.  But "three sides" would be too confusing.
* The "fair" reporting will always favor one side, and this will be based on who owns the media source and what they consider to be the most profitable viewpoint.

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