In February of this year. Kleine ISD, a school district near Houston, Texas, was hit with a major scandal. According to news reports, one of their vice principals had been arrested for drug trafficking and firearms charges.
Yeah, not a good look. Everybody was freaking out about it, calling for his resignation. That was all anybody could talk about for a couple of days. The only thing was it wasn’t real. It was in fact a school assignment for a class on digital citizenry.
That was meant to show the effects of fake news on the media. The assignment was to create a fake news story and figure out and analyze how it could be spread online and one of the students figured that you know.
Maybe the best way to answer that question was to just you know: just do it so he took his made-up story about the vice-principal getting arrested and put it up on his blog next thing. You know it wound up on school, related Facebook groups, people started spreading.
It everywhere everybody want to be the first person to tell their friend about. You know this crazy story about the principal getting arrested. Eventually, it even got picked up by the Houston, Chronicle and Fox News.
Thankfully, the truth came out and the administrator did get to keep their job, but this was not the first time this had happened. In fact, a similar fake scandal had come out of that exact same class the year.
Before being that, this class is designed to show the danger of fake news, I would say they’re succeeding brilliantly, but it also shows that going viral isn’t that hard, especially when you’re totally unencumbered by the Truth and in an age when truth matters less than clicks and algorithms run the world just about anybody, can post anything in wield massive power, welcome to life in the post, truth era.
So here in the United States and in most of the Western world, we decided that democracy is the best system of government. There is or representative democracy. To be more precise. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created, equal and eventually women, but democracy only works when there is a well informed citizenry, which is why more.
The first thing that got enshrined in the Bill of Rights was the right of the press and the right to free assembly for the first 200, 20 or so years of the United States. The press was the arbiter of the truth.
They were the gatekeepers, they assembled all the information from the citizenry and decided, which was the most important to share with their readers and it wasn’t a perfect system. There is no perfect system, there was yellow journalism, there were gossip rags that were editor’s with agendas, and there were reporters that were just you know, lazy or sucked.
There were also underground publications and pamphlets that would be handed out, and you know public gatherings and community organizers that would go out in public and try to counter the influence of the establishment media.
But people’s. Relationship to the news was very different. Back then, it was just something that you cut up on once or twice a day. You know some major newspapers posted an evening edition. Some people read that, but most people just kind of read it on their spare time.
You know over breakfast or on the train or at the coffee shop, and then they would talk about those issues later on with their friends and family and co-workers in the 1920s and 30s radio came along and provided a new source of news and just like what Usually happened, the new technology kind of takes on the habits of the old technology.
The news generally aired once in the morning and once in the evening, sandwiched in between episodes of The Lone Ranger Little Orphan Annie and the shadow. In fact, a survey in 1938 showed that only about 10 % of the broadcast Airways were dedicated to news, and the news was delivered by trusted journalists who sort of serve as the standard bearers of the truth.
You know respected names like Edward r, murrow, Graham McNamee, Lowell Thomas. You know people with gravitas that would deliver the news straight down the middle and as for choices in programming, people had the varied and wide selection of ABC CBS and NBC.
Yes, those guys have been around for a while, and then article killed the radio star TV took over our households in the 50s and 60s, led by the big three and the news at the time. Wasn’t really something that they made money on.
It was sort of a lost leader, it was something they did just because they had to, because the broadcast airwaves were actually owned by the US government and the big three networks, actually least those Airways from the government, and they did so for free in exchange for Providing news programming back then the news on TV and radio anyway was not seen as a commodity.
It was seen as a public good, which is why the FCC actually enacted something. In 1948. They called the Fairness Doctrine which helped to ensure that the people would get access to all different sides of the information.
This apply to anybody who received a broadcast license to use the US Airways and it had two basic requirements. Then every license need to vote a reasonable portion of broadcast time to the discussion and consideration of controversial issues of public importance and that in doing so the broadcaster must be fair, that is, the broadcaster must affirmatively endeavor to make facilities available for the expression of contrasting Viewpoints held by responsible elements with respect to the controversial issues presented and then continued this way, all the way up through the 80s.
You know the news aired in the morning at noon in the evening and then once again before bedtime, most people watched one or two of those in their spare time and then just kind of went on with their lives.
Things changed in the 80s when we saw the rise of satellite and cable networks. These didn’t actually use the US Airways, so they weren’t, subject to the Fairness Doctrine and actually in 1987 they cancelled the Fairness Doctrine altogether and along with cable, we got the first 24-hour news station CNN.
For the first time. The news was a constant, all-day stream of information, and I’m actually old enough to remember when this first launched just barely old enough to remember – and one thing that I do remember about it specifically – is that everyone thought it was crazy.
Ted Turner was this maverick media mogul. He was married to Jane Fonda and he wanted to put politics and news on TV 24 hours a day who would subject themselves to that and sure enough their ratings struggled in the early days.
Nobody was really interested until outside’. The skies over Baghdad have been illuminated with the bright flashes going off all over the guy. With the onset of Operation Desert Storm TV viewers were able to watch a war unfold in real time and they flocked to CNN and droves to watch the night-vision footage of smart missiles making pinpoint attacks and reporters breathlessly marveling at our military.
Might Cable News found its foothold and soon after followed other cable networks, headline news, CNBC MSNBC Fox News, all of them providing 24-hour news coverage and since the Fairness Doctrine did not apply to them, they kind of fell into ideological camps.
By the way, have you ever wondered how the news would cover an actual end of the world apocalypse scenario? Cnn did Ted Turner actually had a pre-recorded article that was going to play in the eventualities of a nuclear war, a planet, killing asteroid, or something like that? This is what you would see before the screen went.
Black and humanity was extinguished. Ladies and gentlemen, the end of the world”””””””’ and that song nearer my God to thee, is actually what the band played on the Titanic as it was going down so fun song.
I would have chosen let the bodies at the floor, but that’s. Just me, unfortunately, for the news networks, not everything is the end of the world and not everything is war, so the cable news networks had to find other ways to keep.
People engaged in watching because, unlike the broadcast networks, they did depend on ratings, so everything became the end of the world. Everything became war. Everything became breaking news if they got eyeballs, it got airtime and if it pissed people off even better, but we still had gatekeepers, you know we may have been sliding into our own ideological camps and everything.
But at least there was some kind of structure to our information, and then social media happen and a couple things changed, one, the new stop being something you just consumed once or twice a day. It became an ongoing deluge of information, a constant news feed that we stuff into our psyches, like a goose becoming foie gras and second, the gatekeepers went away.
No longer did a handful of media companies get to control what we get to see now anybody could be an investigative journalist, anybody could be an opinion maker and anybody could have their voices heard.
This was the Utopia that the techno optimist believed in tear down the ivory towers, give everybody a voice, let the free market of ideas, flourish, connect the whole world and watch us come together as one to advance the human race, and that is exactly how it went Down yeah, the problem is, there were still gatekeepers gatekeepers, with just as much of an agenda as any news editor that ever existed, the gatekeeper was the algorithm and the agenda was to keep you on the platform as long as possible.
Truth facts. This doesn’t factor into the algorithm, not even a little bit. In fact, the more inflammatory of posts the more people might respond to it, which, in the algorithm, only means that that’s more worth spreading to more people, meaning the paranoid schizophrenic down.
The street now has just as much opportunity to connect with people as seasoned journalists, backed by a staff of editors that are dedicated to strict journalistic ethics and to make matters worse. The contents curated based on your previous actions, so you’re, inundated only with stuff that you want to see.
You know how celebrities like Michael Jackson, maybe Tom Cruise they go a little bit crazy after a while, because they surround themselves with yes men that just tell them what they want to hear yeah, that’s.
Everybody now – and you know honestly, I feel like everything I’m saying here is redundant because we’ve. We’ve. All seen this. We’ve all seen social media turn into an outrage machine. We’ve watched the trolls in The provocateur, spread anger and misinformation and dr.
evil laughs all the way of the bank. With it we’ve. Seen the hate speech proliferate. We’ve, seen flat. Earthers and anti-vaxxers actually grow their ranks and we’ve. Seen the endless deranged conspiracy theories.
We’ve, seen disinformation campaigns try to affect elections here in the US and abroad, but worst of all it’s been used to actually organize genocide in countries like Myanmar, but to be fair, there has been some good stuff that’s, come from social media like reconnecting us with classmates that we haven’t seen in years, but it’s also done terrible things like reconnecting us with classmates.
We haven’t seen in years. The social media experiment is barely a decade old and ten years in the optimism is kind of gone. The truth is harder to discern than ever, and we’ve become commodities to be exploited through behavioural targeting and complex data gathering, and this truth vacuum has been mine for both power and profit by troll farms and moneyed interests.
So you might say all right: let’s, fall back on proof. Do you know pics or it didn’t happen as they say, but even that’s flown out the window. We’re all familiar with Photoshop and its ability to make anything.
Look like anything else. In fact, it’s been a long time since we’ve been able to just take a photo at face value so for a while their article is considered a little bit more trustworthy than photos, but with the rise of After Effects.
Anybody was just a little bit of skill can create you know, convincing article fakes, which is a bummer to me, because I love watching, like ghost compilation, articles or just a lot of fun to me, but I don’t trust any of them anymore.
Audio has been questionable for some time now it’s, really easy to edit somebody’s, voice to make them say whatever you want, but 20:16 Adobe introduced something called Project voco, which could take a small sample recording of your voice and Clone it to make you say anything you want, and now their services online, like Lyrebird AI.
That can do the same thing, and the next step, of course, is deep fakes like a super-powered Face Swap from snapchat or Instagram. You can record one person space, saying something and that will seamlessly superimpose that motion onto another person’s face funny when it’s, Nicolas Cage, but obviously much more serious when it’s a world leader – and this is Possible thanks to powerful AI that just keeps getting more powerful every single year.
In fact, just last month, Elon must cut ties with open AI, a company that he founded after they created a bot that can create fake news articles based off of just a couple of sentences that you give them, and it can do it in any style.
You want the app is a text generator called GPT and yeah. If you give it a couple of lines on a subject and tell it what style you want it written in, it will create an entire fake article and actually include fake quotes from real people in it.
It’s, so controversial, even the guys who created it are afraid to release it to the world, but even if they are responsible with it and they don’t release it into the world. Somebody else will create something similar and they will release it.
The genies out of that bottle, but the thing is we don’t even need that kind of technology for misinformation to flourish. Just just take a picture and put a fake quote on there. Nobody checks that shit, they’ll, spread it around like candy of it, something they believe in.
We’ve, all done it. You’ve done it. As Mark Twain once said, a lie can travel halfway around the world, while the truth is still putting on his shoes, which is a great quote for two reasons. One. It points to a fundamental fact about people that existed long before the internet came along and just exacerbated the problem and two Mark Twain.
Didn’t actually say that it’s always attributed to him, but it was actually a guy named CH Spurgeon that’s irony. What’s also, irony is that this deterioration of truth that has fractured our society like never before, has happened at a time when we face multiple existential threats that we have to come together as a species.
If we’re gon na survive them did, I say irony: I meant terrifying from the threat of environmental and ecological collapse to bioengineering, to artificial intelligence to resource depletion. We are facing multiple threats that we have to come together on and not only are we not coming together on it, we can’t even agree that it exists.
Imagine a killer. Asteroid is coming our way and we have plenty of time to do something about it. But we don’t because half the population doesn’t think it’s real, because aunt Louis shared this meme that just felt right.
If we are approaching some kind of great filter as a species, this truth vacuum we’re experiencing, could be a factor, and the thing that troubles me about this personally is that you know I watch a lot of speeches about this subject.
I read a lot of articles and nobody really seems to have a solution, not a real, concrete solution. It basically falls into two camps. One is we reinstall some gatekeepers that actually control what kind of information goes out and the other is.
We have to become fact-checkers ourselves. The problem is creating new gatekeepers won’t work, because people will just create new platforms, so they can keep hearing what they want to hear and will just become even more insular and polarized, and the second option won’t work because People are just not going to take the time to fact-check every single piece of news information that comes across their newsfeed every single day.
I mean most people don’t, even click on the articles. They just read the headlines at the Democratic Society we hold dear the idea that everyone should have a voice, but I think it’s time to start asking that hard question which is: should everybody have a voice? And yes, I am well aware that I make my living on YouTube and that question could be turned right back onto me.
You know why should I have a voice when somebody else doesn’t have it and that’s, a totally fair question. You know I mean, and the only response that I can give to that is that you know I work really hard to be truthful in in what I do.
I work really hard to be responsible with this platform that I have and to use my voice in a way that makes the world better in some small way and yeah. I think there are some people out there that are just not as concerned about that, but that’s.
Not for me to say and – and I don’t know who should have that say? If anybody should, you know, I mean the best option would be something that we could all come together and agree on. But as I & # 39, ve spent this whole article, pointing out we’re, not so good at that it & # 39.
S been said that we are a tribal species, attempting to be a global species, and maybe we’ll get there. You know the optimist in me wants to thing. This is just an experiment that we & # 39. Ve only been doing for a little bit of time, and eventually some things will fall into place and it’ll work itself out, as things tend to do.
Maybe some new arbiter of truth will rise out of all this chaos. There are definitely some organizations out there that are dedicated to countering media bias and fake news. One good place to start is media bias.
Fact-Check calm, yes, calm. The question is, of course, how do you get people to believe in any of these arbiters of truth? When anything that counters our narrative, they think is fake news. The fact of the matter is that, like so many things in the world today, we’re in uncharted territory and there’s.
Nobody out there that can lead us through this rough patch. This is something we’ve got to figure out on our own, so my advice for what it’s worth is to think critically, but not simply and to lead with kindness.
I think most of the problems of the world can be solved by that alone. It by the way, if you want to improve the level of news content out there. One way to do so is to just take the reins and make better content yourself, and if that’s, something you’re interested in you want to learn more about.
I might recommend the class introduction of mobile journalism on Skillshare this class taught by Rob Montgomery of smart film school shows you how to take your phone and what you have in front of you and create compelling and important news articles that can make a difference.
You know people always ask me what’s, the best camera for YouTube, and the answer is whatever camera you have, even if it’s, just your phone, just whatever you have in front of you, you can make great content out of It if you’re passionate about it in this class, teaches you the technical aspects as well as some storytelling stuff.
They can kind of put your articles out there and make it rise above the rest of the stuff. This is, of course, one of over 20,000 classes and design business technology and more that you can find on Skillshare and the first 500 viewers.
This channel can sign that for free for two months to check it all out. If you go to the link down the description, so like social media has its downsides, but let’s face it. It’s, not going anywhere for a while.
So you might as well learn how to use it to your advantage, and Skillshare is a great place to do that. If you want to learn more about how to design and and put effective campaigns out there for social media and for the web, whatever get your message out, make the world a better place.
Skillshare is the place to do it, so you can go to the link down in description below big thanks to Skillshare for supporting this channel, and I also want to give a huge shout out to the answer files on patreon, who helping me grow a team around This channel have been getting better and more content put out there.
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