Is Fake News & Viral Social Media Subverting Democracy In The UK?

ramonmercado

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Here is a film, "The Cleaners", that I think everyone needs to watch.

https://www.pbs.org/video/the-cleaners-yq8ap6/

It's about "content moderators", the people to whom social media companies have outsourced responsibility for deciding what is appropriate and what is not. There are apparently thousands of these info sweatshop workers in third world countries whose job is to sit at a terminal all day, clicking on one image after another, deciding whether to allow or delete them. From the film, these people appear to be mostly uneducated provincials, poorly trained, essentially unsupervised, bringing their own biases and prejudices to the job. They are expected to process 25,000 images per day, which means they have about one second to decide whether an image stays or goes. Their judgment is too often simplistic and unsophisticated; they lack a world view which would allow them to see any of the images in context.

One moderator, viewing an image of a U.S. military guard at Abu Ghraib prison terrorizing a prisoner with a dog, thinks it is an ISIS propaganda image and deletes it. Another, viewing an iconic image from the Vietnam war, a young naked girl fleeing a napalm attack, thinks "child, genitalia, unacceptable" and deletes it. One bases her decisions on her religious beliefs, another on his unpalatable political views. These are not people you want deciding what you see or do not see on the internet.

Also, the large social media platforms appear to be proactively anticipating what may or may not be acceptable to repressive regimes around the world and are deleting or blocking content before anyone complains. The "content moderator" companies, of course, are subcontractors, so the media companies can wash their hands of any responsibility.

Honestly, is this the best we can do? It's becoming increasingly clear that the social media companies are simply feckless, dazzled by their own technical genius, besotted with a Kumbaya vision of the whole world connected and dancing around the maypole. Inevitably, inaction by the media companies will force the government to step in, and I doubt that will end well.
They need to be unionised.

Let's really found the Information Workers of the World Wide Web (IWWWW), the Webblies!
 

OneWingedBird

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Schrodinger's Zebra

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*looks around, puts wellies on and wades in very carefully*

My two shillings?

As others have said, news channels and newspapers have always had their own agendas. Might not be 'fake' news they report (or in some cases it might be!) but they certainly have their own slants on things, their own default standpoints with which they will report the stories to the viewer/reader. I don't know whether it's always been like this, but I think it's certainly been like it long before 'social media' was a thing.

Secondly; I abhor the concept of people being denied free speech because their views are unpopular. Everyone, no matter who they are, should have the right to freedom of speech. Don't like what someone is saying? Then simply don't listen to them. Don't wave placards and moan on twitter that such-and-such person should be Banned From Speaking Forever because you don't like them.

As Voltaire once said “I detest what you write, but I would give my life to make it possible for you to continue to write.” *


And as for the statistics on who voted leave or remain; Mr Zebra and I must also be two of the ones who don't match the statistics on which demographic voted which way. And we don't use social media, by the way.


*wades out, takes off wellies and walks away quickly*


* Ooh hark at Zebs, quoting posh stuff :D
 

ramonmercado

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*looks around, puts wellies on and wades in very carefully*

My two shillings?

As others have said, news channels and newspapers have always had their own agendas. Might not be 'fake' news they report (or in some cases it might be!) but they certainly have their own slants on things, their own default standpoints with which they will report the stories to the viewer/reader. I don't know whether it's always been like this, but I think it's certainly been like it long before 'social media' was a thing.

Secondly; I abhor the concept of people being denied free speech because their views are unpopular. Everyone, no matter who they are, should have the right to freedom of speech. Don't like what someone is saying? Then simply don't listen to them. Don't wave placards and moan on twitter that such-and-such person should be Banned From Speaking Forever because you don't like them.

As Voltaire once said “I detest what you write, but I would give my life to make it possible for you to continue to write.” *


And as for the statistics on who voted leave or remain; Mr Zebra and I must also be two of the ones who don't match the statistics on which demographic voted which way. And we don't use social media, by the way.


*wades out, takes off wellies and walks away quickly*


* Ooh hark at Zebs, quoting posh stuff :D
Now that was a balanced and proportionate rant!
 

GNC

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Just a quirk of the original footage, looks like, not an edit to change what the woman is saying, because it happens as she stops speaking. Digital goes wonky often enough.
 

Yithian

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A blast from the past:


A 1994 attempt at predicting the state of newspapers of 2004. Of course, they missed the major difference that finally came along (the pundits were sceptical about the short time-frame suggested): that the printed product would die a slow death and be replaced by multiple online sources, many of them non-institutional and some non-professional, but the concerns they raise: the loss of a unified reading community, targeted advertising and the dangers of the echo chamber were as accurate as you could hope for.
 

Yithian

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CNN and a while ago, but this kind of thing is definitely part of the problem. Compare with what the viewer at home sees in frame when the cameras roll.

 

Spookdaddy

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I'm not sure there's anything overly damning there. I've seen film crews completely shift an actual event that has already taken place, or is about to, in order to film it most effectively (shifting the background from the confines of a non-descript building, to the relatively open canvas of the road - especially if it gives you a geographical marker, is pretty common).

It may not be exactly spontaneous, but it's also not necessarily created out of whole cloth.
 

Yithian

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I'm not sure there's anything overly damning there. I've seen film crews completely shift an actual event that has already taken place, or is about to, in order to film it most effectively (shifting the background from the confines of a non-descript building, to the relatively open canvas of the road - especially if it gives you a geographical marker, is pretty common).

It may not be exactly spontaneous, but it's also not necessarily created out of whole cloth.
I disagree quite a lot.

The presentation of a state of affairs is crucial, and stage-managing events into memorable compositions of patterns and images like this can profoundly affect the viewer's impression of what has taken place--it influences him on a far deeper level than the journalist's clichéd bleating at any rate.

In this case, it's not a brute fact like a fire or an earthquake, it's a political event and our response to the cause is being conditioned. I don't think I need to deconstruct what they are doing to show you that it could easily be carried out very differently to ensure a negative presentation of whatever these Muslim mothers were doing.

Edit: ever tried watching the news muted? Even without the chyron, you realise how much the presentation, the movement (or lack), the expression on faces, the composition of the groups and the general sense of order or disorder tells you what's going on without a word being spoken.
 

kamalktk

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While these are American news channels, you get the idea.

 

MrRING

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In the US, local news stations are being bought by larger corporations who sometimes demand certain news items be read in the news the way they want. Sinclair Media is one of those companys
 

Patrick30

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If you don’t want to be manipulated, stay off Facebook, Twitter, and similar platforms, and watch as little TV “news” as possible. Or have a really good antennae for bullshit and be very very careful regarding who, what, and where the info originates.
Im still on the Google/YouTube data mine, along with belonging to a few specialized forums such as this one, but I’m very careful. I find it’s practically impossible to completely unplug from the hive without moving to the desert and becoming a hermit, but I try to stay careful.
 

Naughty_Felid

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CNN and a while ago, but this kind of thing is definitely part of the problem. Compare with what the viewer at home sees in frame when the cameras roll.

Restaging news items has been going on since the invention of the camera. Iwo Jima and the flag over the Reichstag are good examples.
 

Yithian

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Restaging news items has been going on since the invention of the camera. Iwo Jima and the flag over the Reichstag are good examples.
Precisely: they were state propaganda.

CNN claim to be something else.
 

Yithian

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so whats is your beef with CNN exactly? I'm not getting it.
In that case, they were misrepresenting reality by facilitating a protest and amplifying its impact, as opposed to reporting what was taking place.

It's like Attenborough throwing meat between rival lions to get some good footage.
 

Naughty_Felid

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In that case, they were misrepresenting reality by facilitating a protest and amplifying its impact, as opposed to reporting what was taking place.

It's like Attenborough throwing meat between rival lions to get some good footage.
So CNN are the only new channel to do this??? Have you ever watched Fox?
 

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I stayed away from Facebook and Twitter and waited to see how things panned out. It’s gone more or less as I expected.
 

Spookdaddy

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The kind of quiet protest exemplified in this video is effectively a prepared statement. If someone makes that protest at point A and then stops off on their way to point C because an opportunity arises at point B to repeat that prepared statement, then I don’t see what the issue is. I would be interested in listening to any argument which can support a rule which states that making the same statement in one geographical space is okay, but in another, a lie; possibly there are circumstances where this might be argued, but you’d have to be able to indicate exactly what those circumstances are in any specific case.

Stage management is a fundamental process in much of our broadcast news – the term itself clearly covers a very wide breadth of potential behaviour, from the utterly mundane, to the staggeringly sinister, but it does not necessarily imply anything more diabolical than the simple practical nuts and bolts of the process of making an event broadcastable – everything from dabbing a bit of make up on a minister’s pasty face, repeating audio because a car has backfired or a noisy plane has just flown overhead, getting a subject to move because the sun is making them squint or putting their face in shadow.

Some years ago I watched several film crews record the statement of a group of people outside a courtroom in London. Work was taking place along the pavement and scaffolders were chucking scaff clamps into a stillage, clearly in shot for a couple of crews filming from one side. After the initial event they obviously asked the individuals involved to repeat the statement from a slightly different position so that they could re-record without the distraction. Does that make the second event a falsehood?

Clearly some people have seen this event as an example of the sinister end of the spectrum, but I can't really see any evidence to suggest that this was cut from whole cloth. I’m happy to hold my hands up if anyone else can, and points to it.
 
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Yithian

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So CNN are the only new channel to do this??? Have you ever watched Fox?
I certainly haven't claimed that CNN is the only channel to do this. This is just one example of what is wrong with the corporate media. If I had a video of Fox doing this, I'd have posted it here.

For the record, I categorise Fox as 'not news'. Their output is risible.
 

Cochise

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Yes, people have always manipulated both photos and videos. Which is not too bad if rivals are policing it. Certainly in the US way back when papers used to delight in calling out competitors for fakery.

But the traditional media (I'm meaning the UK now,) all sing from the same songbook, just slightly different hymns. And the Web/Social Media is not generally policed at all, largely because people can entirely ignore anyone or any site they disagree with - indeed they can actively block them out.

I'm not calling for censorship. I don't know the answer.
 

MrRING

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In the US, local news stations are being bought by larger corporations who sometimes demand certain news items be read in the news the way they want. Sinclair Media is one of those companys
Here is some evidence to back up the claim:
https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo...as-local-news-anchors-recite-script-in-unison
A video published by sports news site Deadspin over the weekend revealed dozens of TV anchors from Sinclair Broadcast Group reciting the same speech warning against "biased and false news."

It was the latest show of the vast reach of a company that owns local TV stations across the country and has long been criticized for pushing conservative coverage and commentary onto local airwaves.

Sinclair required local anchors to record promos where they denounce "the troubling trend of irresponsible, one-sided news stories plaguing our country" and say that "some members of the media use their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control 'exactly what people think.' "
 
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