How Everyone Can #Resist Fake News (It’s easier than you think!)

Yesterday, I wrote about how fake news has long been accepted without any questions in the evangelical & fundamentalist Christian world. I hope also I showed that the Oregon Trail Generation is uniquely equipped to show people how to tell the difference between real and fake websites.

Today, I want to share how everyone reading this can make a difference in opening the eyes of deceived far-right followers.

And believe me—the problem is so widespread that it will take everyone.

Before I share the exact problem, I want to give two pieces of background information:

1) The Structure of Propaganda

Propaganda is effective if it follows certain rules. (For detailed information, The Rand Corporation has a wonderful paper, shared by #Resistance superhero Caroline O., and everyone should read it, and follow her.)

According to Rand, two of the rules that the Russians skillfully applied in 2016 were (in my own words):

1. Repetition of false information is more likely to be believed, simply because the recipient hears it so often.

2. Information from a variety of different sources is more likely to be believed, because people assume that everyone can’t possibly be lying at the same time, about the same thing.

Jonathan Albright, a communications professor in North Carolina, ran an analysis of how fake news spread across the internet—and after analyzing hundreds of websites, and hundreds of thousands of links, he stumbled across something crucial:

First fake news outlets would run a story. Maybe like this one:

Suspected Pedophile Ring Exposed

Then, they would link to another source, perhaps a video on YouTube, or an Instagram post that supposedly backed up the first story. (I can’t bear to link to any more sites after the first one, so here’s some screenshots.)

 That creator would then link to a book or pamphlet, maybe on Amazon, or maybe in it’s own Wiki page, that would back up the second story.

Someone, somewhere along the way, was bound to share the propaganda on Twitter or Facebook, thinking, “I read three different sources! It has to be true!” 

Albright created a network graph, showing the connection of fake-news, alt-right hyperlinks to YouTube, Amazon, and other major news sites:

That is a lot of fake news, and last November, it was FLOODING the internet.

However, when Albright repeated his analysis on left-leaning, and mainstream news sources, this is what the hyper-link network looked like:

There were hardly any links connecting them, and almost NO links to false, alt-right, or right-leaning websites.

“Well,” you might be thinking, “so what? What does that have to do with resisting Trump? And I’m not 100% sure I understood half of that technical gibberish.”

A teacher who is very close to my heart explained this to me, in a totally different context.

2) The Structure of Internet Community

Gina Pera is an amazing ADHD expert & author. She became my friend after her book saved my marriage.

(Damn right, that’s an affiliate link.)

However, I couldn’t understand why she spent so much time commenting on news articles that were written by ADHD deniers.

See, there’s an entire subculture devoted to the idea that ADHD is either the result of bad parenting, or can be fixed by the right vitamins, or is REALLY a gift, instead of a debilitating medical condition.

Those ideas are MUCH more exciting than, “We’ve had this medication since the 40’s, and this is an easily treatable condition!” So, the mainstream media picks up quack information about ADHD *all the damn time.* 

It frustrated me to watch her expend her energy, day after day, commenting on news articles that were full of people who thought she was either a liar, or a Big Pharma Shill.

“Gina,” I said, “Why not spend your time writing new material, instead of commenting on these stupid media pieces?”

She would just smile, and say, “Because no matter how much I write, someone in the media will have more reach than I will. But, if I comment on a major news story, a person who needs REAL information about ADHD will know that they can come to me to find help.”

I should have thought of that, but I didn’t.

So, I tried it myself, and commented on a few ADHD-denying articles.

For *weeks* afterwards, I received private messages and emails from desperate people who had tried the vitamins/parenting/gift routine, and were looking for fact-based research on how to help themselves or their loved ones.

They were able to get the medical help they needed, because I commented on a fake news story!!!

What does this have to do with resisting Trump?

It may be the linchpin that undoes the entire Fake News system.

Remember, yesterday we discussed that people were willing to accept Fake News (like Satanic Proctor & Gamble products) as fact, because:

-they were used to trusting the written word, and
-they didn’t have the internet savvy to distinguish fake sites from real ones.

Jonathan Albright has shown that, while the Fake News Machine has hundreds of thousands of links to mainstream & social sites, the mainstream media has ALMOST NONE.

This means that, when a trusting, ignorant, Internet newbie sees a fake news story, it’s VERY likely that  he or she won’t see a *single* link to a story that challenges it.

We can change that.

When we encounter a fake news story, instead of ignoring or deleting it, we can #Resist it.

We can go to the blog and leave a RESPECTFUL comment, and LEAVE A LINK to a reputable site. “Actually, that building doesn’t even exist. Here’s the Google Map site.”

If the site deletes our comment, we can leave a comment and link on a social site, or on YouTube.

It’s so simple, but I think we’ve gotten so frustrated with the onslaught of fake news that we just wanted to shut it all out.

Like I said yesterday, we don’t have to convince *everyone*, and I am not trying to turn America blue. However, we can inoculate the average American against deception by teaching them how to think for themselves, and introducing them to Truth

One person at a time.

The data I’m looking at has convinced me that it’s not going to happen any other way. 

It won’t happen overnight, and it won’t happen without a lot of people dedicated to the idea that, “I can make a difference in ONE person’s life, with my comment.”

However, Russia played a long game of deception and grooming, and we can be equally patient while distributing the Truth.

 

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