Plato’s Allegory of the Cave

In The Republic, Plato uses an extended metaphor involving prisoners who can see nothing but shadows projected on the cavern wall. They know only blurry outlines of the true objects represented by the shadows, and they pride themselves on how well they can memorize and relate to the puppet shows performed by their captors. If anyone from the outside world were to come down to them and describe color, sunlight,…

Traditional Reporters and Data-driven Analysts Both Underestimated Trump’s Chances

A data-driven news outlet that gave Trump a 3-in-10 chance of winning the electoral college analyzes its own failure, and the failure of organizations that looked at the same data and gave Trump a 1-in-100 chance of victory. The article also explores the backpedaling of traditional journalists who had confidently predicted a Clinton win. Too late for me to read this tonight, but I’ll save it for my new class…

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Are we spreading fake news about fake news?

In a new research paper that Poynter says will be published tomorrow by the National Bureau of Economic Research, Hunt Allcott of New York University and Matthew Gentzkow of Stanford University conclude that “fake news” (propaganda presented as facts and designed to control, rather than satire) is not likely to have had an impact on the US presidential election. I am prepping for my first day of classes tomorrow, so I…

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Topical Satire Is Not “Fake News.”

While I’ve been preparing to teach a class on memes and “fake news,” my complaints are all about propaganda that misleads in order to wield influence or make money. I am not talking about the “fake news” which is clever satire, such as these two posts which made me belly-laugh. The Sanders pic I found in my Facebook feed, where it had been posted on P-diddy’s page. The Obama pic is…

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Lie to Me: Fiction in the Post-Truth Era

I’m trying to remember what it was like, a few months ago when I was thinking about picking “fake news” as the topic for a media course, when I was briefly worried I wouldn’t be able to find enough background reading on the issue. I’m no longer worried about that. (I am, however, a lot more worried about fake news.) The problem with our “post-truth” politics is that a large…

Facebook Has Seized the Media, and That’s Bad News for Everyone But Facebook

Facebook has no financial incentive to care whether the links we click on point to quality journalism, a silly “Which pop culture figure are you” poll, a basically true story with a sensationalized or misleading headline, pictures from a friend’s vacation, or a completely fabricated work of propaganda. When I work with my handheld or tablet, it’s a pain to get the URL of a story I find on Facebook.…

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Contemptible and Exploitive “Share if You’re Not Ashamed of Me” Facebook Scams

Outline: Various Facebook posts that feature photographs of young people with disabilities beg you to share to prove that you are not ashamed of the pictured youngsters. Other versions claim that nobody likes the people depicted in the images because they are disabled and, therefore, nobody will share their posts. Brief Analysis: The posts are the work of callous and contemptible Facebook users that are simply trying to garner attention and promote themselves…