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elizabethv
elizabethv
1/31/2017 3:51:26 PM
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Multi-faceted
I think the problem of fake news is multi-faceted. One the one hand, it's great to see companies trying to take some responsibility, trying to identify business that might be related to larger companies that are meddling in affairs best left alone (like child pornography.) If any person or business identifies that type of situation, I would hope they would take all of the right steps to get that business reported to the authorities and any connection promptly removed. I won't pretend that there isn't any fault in the hands of businesses. For instance, multiple news networks reported not too long ago that Saudi Arabia and other Arabic countries were not taking in Syrian refugees. This came complete with a picture and a meme of tents in Saudi Arabia that could have been used to house refugees. This information has perpetuated to a point where most believe this to be the case. And it is in fact, incorrect. Saudi Arabia, and most other Arabic countries have been taking in refugees for awhile now. Part of the problem is a disconnect in the language, they aren't reporting them as refugees. So when you look at stats from those countries, you don't see any refugees whatsoever, but it isn't because they don't exist, it's because the name isn't being used. A little more investigative reporting on the part of the people who broke the story to Western Media might have been helpful, and have avoided a lot of falsehoods that are currently being spread. 

http://www.newsweek.com/gulf-states-are-taking-syrian-refugees-401131

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elizabethv
elizabethv
1/31/2017 3:56:05 PM
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Personal Responsibilty
I also think personal responsibility really needs to come into play too though. A friend had posted a story about Hillary Clinton on her Facebook during the election. I clicked on the link and read the story, realizing the story was from the "Denver Tribune" supposedly, Denver's oldest newspaper. I've lived in Denver for over 4 years now, and in that time I'd never even heard of the "Denver Tribune." So I started searching a little bit to see why I hadn't ever heard of this paper. In the end, the "story" was the only "story" on the whole website. Every other page was under construction. And the address given for the paper, was actually a parking lot along Colfax, a few miles from where I work. Not that close to downtown, and definitely a sketchy part of town. The story was a fake, the paper was a fake, the address was definitely fake. But none of that mattered, it seemed convincing enough that my friend and I'm sure hundreds if not thousands of people had fallen for the whole thing. I think we all need to try to verify the stories we're reading, and learn how to figure out the fakes from the real ones.

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ms.akkineni
ms.akkineni
1/31/2017 9:45:58 PM
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Re: Personal Responsibilty
I have experienced several similar experiences and am sure many more had ..

We got be really mindful because all online stories seem to be really true. But majority of them are questionable. So not really sure if there is an easy way to figure out real vs fake.

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Ariella
Ariella
2/1/2017 9:14:17 AM
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Re: Personal Responsibilty
@ms.akkieneni There are different forms of fake news. Some are just speculation when all the facts are not yet in while some are absolute fabrication to fit a favored narrative. In the former, the context is not fully known, while in the latter it is is but deliberately cropped, so to speak, to present the picture the reporter chooses to believe or just believes to be  more dramatic and so more newsworthy. I'd be tempted to put misleading headlines into that category, too. So often, I see headlines that claim something that is not in the least substantiated by the body of the article. 

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ms.akkineni
ms.akkineni
2/26/2017 8:51:19 PM
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Re: Personal Responsibilty
@Ariella:

Can't agree more with you.

Very well explained analogy between speculation and fabrication.

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JohnBarnes
JohnBarnes
2/26/2017 11:00:07 PM
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Re: Personal Responsibilty
ariella, ms.akkineni,

Still and all, I can't overcome the feeling that "fake news" should be reserved to mean "stories that are entirely fabricated" (even if they contain some things that are true).  E.g. "At a recent White House press conference, the press secretary declared that, 'Hydrogen is the lightest element, seven is a prime number, and monkeys are flying out of all my orifices.'" would count as fake news (despite 7 and hydrogen), unless the WHPS actually said those words AND documentable identifable monkeys were actually flying from those places. Anything that is merely a spin the speaker doesn't like but contains verifiable facts is not fake news at all.

Blurring the distinction is being passionately pursued by the people known to have benefited most from fake news. Wonder why?

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JohnBarnes
JohnBarnes
2/26/2017 11:02:03 PM
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Re: Personal Responsibilty
This does of course lead to follow-on fake news: "In a rare joint statement today, the White House Otolaryngologist, White House Gastroenterologist, and Office of Monkey Confirmation affirmed that ..."

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ms.akkineni
ms.akkineni
2/28/2017 6:24:33 PM
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Re: Personal Responsibilty
@JB:

Very much in agreement with you. As always nice details. I like the example you quoted.

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Adi
Adi
2/2/2017 8:46:06 AM
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Re: Personal Responsibilty
elizabethTV - Rothenberg described a similar event in his speech, where a 23-year old named Cameron Harris posted  fake story about "tens of thousands" of fraudulent votes for Hilary Clinton being found in an Ohio warehouse. He added a picture of a warehouse (apparently in Birmingham, here in the UK), said it was from Ohio, and posted it on a fake newspaper site he built after picking up a URL for $5. From advertising that he sold on the site, he made $5,000 --for about five hours work. 

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Ariella
Ariella
2/2/2017 11:55:38 AM
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Re: Personal Responsibilty
@Adi I looked up the story. It's here: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/18/us/fake-news-hillary-clinton-cameron-harris.html?_r=1 So he actually made $22K, but he didn't sell at the highest possible point:

In late October, with the inevitable end of his venture approaching, Mr. Harris sought an appraisal for the web domain that by then had vaulted into the web's top 20,000 sites. An appraiser said that given the traffic, he could probably sell it for between $115,000 and $125,000.

But Mr. Harris made a costly mistake: He decided to wait. Days after the election, denounced for making the peddling of fake news remunerative, Google announced that it would no longer place ads on sites promoting clearly fabricated stories.

A few days later, when Mr. Harris checked his site, the ads were gone. He checked with the appraiser and was told that the domain was now essentially worthless.

 

 Interesting story, but in the interest of balance, I want to share a link from Slate (not a RW outlet by any stretch of the imagination) that ran this at the end of last year: http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2016/11/29/conservatives_aren_t_the_only_ones_who_believe_fake_news.html:

Green Party candidate Jill Stein has raised at least $6.2 million for a doomed recount effort in three critical Electoral College states. She's done this by feeding into the theory that the election might have been hacked by Russians or other nefarious actors—a claim for which there is no direct evidence. A report by New York Magazine's Gabriel Sherman airing the claims of a group of computer scientists and election lawyers who believe the election may have been tampered with spread like wildfire on liberal Facebook last week, prompting further calls for a recount. That group's circumstantial proof was quickly debunked. And while there are good governance reasons to do a paper recount, even the academic being cited by Stein in her court filings has said he thinks it's unlikely the election was hacked.


The article goes on to offer some other examples.

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batye
batye
2/2/2017 1:04:46 PM
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Re: Personal Responsibilty
@Ariella interesting to know thanks for the links and info, make me think it seem not everything as we commonly know :) - how I see it...

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JohnBarnes
JohnBarnes
2/6/2017 10:02:40 AM
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Re: Personal Responsibilty
Ariella,

I think you've  identified  one of the effects of rapid duplication-and-dissemination technology: not just lies themselves, but techniques of lying and counter-moves against debunking, now spread very rapidly.

The first stories about fake news were about people outside either normal or alternative media, like Cameron Harris, who flat-out made stuff up and put it out as news.

Within a few news cycles, the wingers were using it to refer to anything they didn't like, so that Donald Trump was able to get away with calling CNN "fake news". Linguistic drift happens all the time -- it's one way language grows and changes -- and one of the things that does happen is that some terms become so broad, so much just a substitute for "me like" or "me no like" that they come out of the process meaningless. But we've now reached the point where that reduction happens so fast that there's virtually no period during which the term is useful for attacking lies.

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Ariella
Ariella
2/6/2017 10:05:55 AM
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Re: Personal Responsibilty
<But we've now reached the point where that reduction happens so fast that there's virtually no period during which the term is useful for attacking lies.>

@johnbarnes indeed.

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afwriter
afwriter
2/2/2017 11:40:42 PM
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Re: Personal Responsibilty
This is what I keep saying. Fake news is not anything new, one of Mark Twains most famous quotes is, "The rumors of my death are greatly exaggerated." The problem isn't just that it is more widespread its that people refuse to vet the information.

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clrmoney
clrmoney
1/31/2017 4:26:44 PM
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No More Fake news
I like to Google adsense misrepresentation policy whic can be very heplful and useful for all of this new stuff that is everywhere.

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dmendyk
dmendyk
1/31/2017 5:28:19 PM
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the fix is in
Digital technology is a key enabler of "fake news." Think Photoshop manipulation for starters. Lying isn't new, it's just a lot easier to do on a mass scale. Good luck trying to stop it.

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faryl
faryl
1/31/2017 6:49:45 PM
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Re: the fix is in
@dmendyk I think it speaks volumes that instead of educating people how to be more discerning, the people being tasked with addressing the prevalence of fake news are from the same part of the information flow that produces it. As long people need to rely on the news creators to discernp fact from fake, there will always be potential for it to be abused.

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elizabethv
elizabethv
1/31/2017 7:24:06 PM
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Re: the fix is in
@faryl - that aspect is too true also! We can't, and really shouldn't, be relying on people in technology, or even people in journalism, to make sure that what we are reading is factual. People need to know how to figure that out for themselves, so that they aren't victims of their own ignorance. If everyone just inherently trusts what they read because the writers and the content managers are ensuring the information is accurate, all it takes is a little abuse to watch the whole thing becoming dangerous. 

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elizabethv
elizabethv
1/31/2017 7:20:58 PM
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Re: the fix is in
@dmendyk - I completely agree with you. A lot of the "fake news" is coming from Eastern Europe, to my understanding. I think for their part they enjoy being able to pull so many people into their trap. While doing work for my Master's Degree I came across an entire book claiming that the Famine in the Ukraine had never happened. The book itself amazed me, it used a lot of the same facts I already knew to verify the Famine, but used them in such a way so as to imply it had never happened. To me it will always be the proof that anyone looking at facts needs to dig deeper than just the facts presented. After reading that I saw just how easy it was to manipulate facts to suit your preconceived beliefs. The idea of doing so will never go away.

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ms.akkineni
ms.akkineni
1/31/2017 9:42:39 PM
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Re: the fix is in
Well said @dmendyk. This makes me think pros vs cons of digitalization. I am surely not in curse of advancement in technology. But i have heard many stories about Photoshop - both professional and personal. So we are not sure whether to belive what we see digitally..

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JohnBarnes
JohnBarnes
1/31/2017 9:21:25 PM
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I really don't see a solution
Philosophy of communication issue: there are only two ways to establish truth, either correspondence (you know what is real and you measure the statement against that) or coherence (you check the statement against the whole population of statements and determine how closely and densely it is connected to statements you trust (or doubt) very highly). In practice correspondence always ends up reducing to coherence anyway.

The sheer volume of stuff that will have to be read on the internet, and the sheer ease with which new text can be generated, suggests to me that this is one of those cases where a nickel's worth of offense (i.e. putting out huge numbers of slightly different versions of the same story and linking them in natural-like ways) will probably beat twenty dollars' worth of defense (i.e. looking for correspondence patterns that  seem engineered rather than natural).  So defense is likely to be plain old slow plodding people with the pointed stick of inquiry; offense will be the equivalent of computer-aimed machine guns of lie-production.

We are so sunk.

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Michelle
Michelle
1/31/2017 10:07:59 PM
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Re: I really don't see a solution
@John Can the machines help us? Machine learning? AI?

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JohnBarnes
JohnBarnes
1/31/2017 10:15:00 PM
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Re: I really don't see a solution
Michelle,

Machines can and do spot discrepancies between texts, and coherences as well. They're getting to be able to do that with pictures and graphs. Eventually they'll be able to cross the boundaries between words and pictures and graphs and equations and compare there.

But either humans will have to tell machines "And here's the true stuff to which everything must correspond through chains of all lengths" or else the machines will have to say "the chains of correspondence knit and knot together very thickly right here, so provisionally we are declaring this set of statements/pictures/etc. to be facts or laws."  And both processes are ever more subject to corruption; nothing stops humans from lying to machines (except other humans, who first must catch the liars), and nothing stops humans from inventing and promulgating false nexuses in the truth network.

The only difference is that instead of being sunk without the help of the machines we will be sunk with the help of the machines, I'm afraid.

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Michelle
Michelle
1/31/2017 10:33:36 PM
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Re: I really don't see a solution
And we're back to 1984
...nothing stops humans from inventing and promulgating false nexuses in the truth network.

or Skynet or something

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Ariella
Ariella
2/1/2017 9:10:43 AM
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Re: I really don't see a solution
@Michelle in the real 1984 -- not the book -- we were limited in how quickly fake news could spread because we didn't have the internet. That's not to say that all newspaper, radio, and TV news had to be completely accurate. I'm sure that there were some unverified reports then as well as political slants that were allowed to color the news. But you didn't have hundreds of millions of individuals sharing their own take on the news, often with shopped or deliberately misidentified photos offered as proof. Social media really extends the ramifications of the quote whose origins are still a bit unclear (see http://quoteinvestigator.com/2014/07/13/truth/) "A lie can travel halfway around the world while the turth is putting on its shoes." In fact, it now travels all around the world, and has already convinced half of it by the time the correction goes out and gets almost no attention. 

 


 

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Michelle
Michelle
2/1/2017 7:29:25 PM
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Re: I really don't see a solution
That's so true. Connecting the world has resulted in a huge volume of misinformation unseen before. I spend a lot of time scrolling and rolling my eyes over some of the things I see on social media. Outrage!

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dcawrey
dcawrey
2/3/2017 10:16:28 PM
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Re: I really don't see a solution
Fake news is a huge problem, something I think journalists could see coming a mile away. Those who were trained for the job of reporting have lost jobs, replaced by something cheaper. 

Well, now it seems we have hit the bottom. Hopefully outlets like the New York Times is helped by this, because we're all still going to need news. 

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JohnBarnes
JohnBarnes
2/4/2017 12:23:59 PM
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Re: I really don't see a solution
DCawrey,

At the risk of being one of those dreadful people who fact checks ... what makes you think/serves as evidence that/might tend to confirm that we've hit bottom?

I think we've only begun to plummet.

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Ariella
Ariella
2/4/2017 6:55:54 PM
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Re: I really don't see a solution
@JohnBarnes No innter optimist for you, I take it! I do fact-check a lot on just about everything. I also make it a point to read about certain events in media in different media outlets just to see what each onel highlights and how they headlines the same event differently, according to the preferred narrrative of its political affiliation.

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batye
batye
2/5/2017 7:52:50 PM
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Re: I really don't see a solution
@Ariella  the sad reality, we no longer getting correct information, we getting sponsored opinions... where information get twisted... - how I see it...

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batye
batye
2/5/2017 7:54:33 PM
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Re: I really don't see a solution
@dcawrey  good point as in the past news could make or brake Co. and create a movments on the stock exchange... but now it like game where is free for all 

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dmendyk
dmendyk
2/1/2017 9:39:35 AM
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Re: I really don't see a solution
Regarding that sunken feeling, "fake news" probably started right around the time our ancestors started communicating. At its heart, it's called lying, and lying is part of our DNA, so to speak. And the lies we tell are probably most often to ourselves. The optimist in me -- and he's in there, somewhere -- figures we've made it this far, and we're doing pretty well despite it all. It's just disheartening when the darker forces take their turn at bat.

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Ariella
Ariella
2/2/2017 9:06:56 AM
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Re: I really don't see a solution
<the optimist in me -- and he's in there, somewhere > Lol @mendyK I think you have the makings of a book there with  a title like "How to find your inner opitimist." People do tell themselve stories they want to believe, that's true. Is that a universal and innate part of the human condition? Likely so given the fact that you can categorize a number of cognitive biases. 

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JohnBarnes
JohnBarnes
2/4/2017 12:42:19 PM
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Re: I really don't see a solution
Speaking as a techonological optimist (i.e. tech improves faster than people) the real problem is that the newer ways of lying are much more advanced. Not only does a lie get around the world while truth is putting its boots on, but next year the lie will have a faster plane and truth will still not have gone from lace-up to velcro.

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mhhf1ve
mhhf1ve
2/3/2017 3:02:51 PM
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What about Satire?
Given how many times I've seen The Onion headlines re-shared by people who didn't understand the satire... I'm not so sure about how any algorithms are going to fix fake news.

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JohnBarnes
JohnBarnes
2/4/2017 12:49:17 PM
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Re: What about Satire?
mhhf1ve,

Exactly. The mechanisms of privileging (in the semiotic sense -- privileging is the metasign that tells you how important/trustworthy a sign is, like the light and siren is the privileging on a moving ambulance) has been decaying for decades. Once upon a time anybody who paid attention could tell the difference between a hardcover book put out by a major commercial publisher, a small specialty publisher, an academic press, or the "all other" that included the Jehovah's Witnesses, Communist Party, and Vantage Press (biggest of the old vanity presses). Nowadays significant works come out online-only and many major commercial presses have vanity lines (where the author pays to have the spelling corrected and nobody checks content). 

This has happened before; there was a period when people believed whatever they saw in movies or heard on radio, and when television news and later computer printouts were infallible. Nowadays you will discover many students in high school and college who don't see why they can't just write "I got it from Google" instead of a bibliography. Eventually, because privileging is valuable and there's a market for it, people will find ways to generate and pay for it.

Right after truth gets those gosh-darn boots on.

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Ariella
Ariella
2/4/2017 6:52:51 PM
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Re: What about Satire?
@mhhf1ve I recall someone publicly pointed to one of its articles as proof of something or other a year or two ago.

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batye
batye
2/5/2017 7:47:37 PM
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Re: What about Satire?
@Ariella interesting to know... I read few weeks ago about Putin Propaganda machine hiring english speaking people to post on facebook and twitter and other social media... it getting scary in my books as you no longer trust anyone...

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mhhf1ve
mhhf1ve
2/9/2017 10:40:44 AM
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Re: What about Satire?
> "... one of its articles as proof of something or other a year or two ago."

It's not just The Onion's headlines that are predicting the future, though.. Maybe you saw The Boston Globe published a fake front page last year:

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/04/10/473709316/boston-globe-runs-fake-front-page-detailing-a-donald-trump-world

Those headlines were particularly prescient when the "travel ban" hit the news.... 

I've also seen this viral meme going around:

Overheard in the Newsroom: Features editor: "I kind of feel sorry for the folks at The Onion. The bar for being more ridiculous than the real news has been impossibly high of late."

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Ariella
Ariella
2/9/2017 10:43:47 AM
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Re: What about Satire?
@mhhf1ve We've really come to the point at which truth can be more absurd than fiction and where truly absurd fictions are accepted as truth. It helps to feed the mininformation to those who are already inclined to think a certain way. They won't question it if it fits their expectations.

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mhhf1ve
mhhf1ve
2/9/2017 11:06:18 AM
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Re: What about Satire?
This isn't the first time in history when fake news has hit the mainstream media... there's a recent book out by Tim Wu (the guy who coined the term Net Neutrality) that goes over some of the history of fake news origins -- dating back to the mid-1800s or so, iirc. Tabloids found that fake news was highly profitable-- and I think we're seeing the 2.0 wave of fake news hit.

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mhhf1ve
mhhf1ve
2/9/2017 11:09:23 AM
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Re: What about Satire?
Check out The Attention Merchants if you have the chance. https://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/11/03/books/review-attention-merchants-tim-wu.html

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Ariella
Ariella
2/9/2017 11:12:47 AM
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Re: What about Satire?
@mhhf1ve I suppose that's one way of looking at it: yellow journalism take to the net. The only thing is that a lot more people become unwitting accomplices to its spread by sharing the links and/or misleading and imcomplete quotes in these articles on social media. Just yesterday, I responded to one of those tweets that purported to give  a quote from DeVos. It was a quote from her, but it skipped a whole sentence with no indication of the omission.

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mhhf1ve
mhhf1ve
2/9/2017 11:17:42 AM
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Re: What about Satire?
Ha. Well, it used to be a sign of sophistication and education to quote an author or elder statesman-- but now it's just a joke. I can't numerate the times I've seen fake Abraham Lincoln quotes posted as viral memes.

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Ariella
Ariella
2/9/2017 11:41:07 AM
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Re: What about Satire?
@mhhf1ve including the one that attributes the quote not to believe everything you read on the internet to the 16th president. Actually, you'd be surprised at the number of quotes that have become associated with certain famous people that have never been fully verified. Sometimes when I want to use a famous quote, I look it up on QuoteInvestigator and find that the connection to the person is somewhat dubious. 

However, that kind of mistake due to the fact that very few people take the time to check out famous historical quotes is different in my view than deliberately cutting out part of a quote without ellipses. What are composition teachers teaching these days if people can emerge from such classes without realizing that a lack of quote integrity makes your whole position intellectually dishonest?

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Ariella
Ariella
2/9/2017 11:41:07 AM
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Re: What about Satire?
@mhhf1ve including the one that attributes the quote not to believe everything you read on the internet to the 16th president. Actually, you'd be surprised at the number of quotes that have become associated with certain famous people that have never been fully verified. Sometimes when I want to use a famous quote, I look it up on QuoteInvestigator and find that the connection to the person is somewhat dubious. 

However, that kind of mistake due to the fact that very few people take the time to check out famous historical quotes is different in my view than deliberately cutting out part of a quote without ellipses. What are composition teachers teaching these days if people can emerge from such classes without realizing that a lack of quote integrity makes your whole position intellectually dishonest?

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mhhf1ve
mhhf1ve
2/9/2017 2:25:22 PM
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Re: What about Satire?
> "What are composition teachers teaching these days..."

Well, I think teachers may have their hands full teaching a lot of other things that may be more basic than how to quote correctly. It's sad, but true.

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Ariella
Ariella
2/9/2017 2:37:31 PM
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Re: What about Satire?
@mhhf1ve I taught comp for years and *the research paper* was what largely defined the curriculum for the second level course. How to quote correctly was one part that shouldn't be all that difficult to grasp. If anything people tend to err in ellipses use by putting htem at the beginning and end where they are not needed. But to skip a whole sentence and just go on as if you have the quote intact is so obvious that the person doing it really can't claim that's just a technical detail like placing a period before or after the citation. 

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mhhf1ve
mhhf1ve
2/9/2017 3:01:41 PM
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Re: What about Satire?
> "If anything people tend to err in ellipses use by putting them at the beginning and end..."

Ha! Uh, I guess I've been erring on the side of too many ellipses all this time. :P

And disregarding the use of [sic] completely.... 

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dlr5288
dlr5288
2/28/2017 4:08:47 PM
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Re: What about Satire?
For some reason I've always had problems with citing sources. I either wasn't sure how to cite the exact source or how much is too much.

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