Friday, 19 January 2018

Fake News

Fake news is nothing new and no doubt dates back thousands of years. In mediavel times rumour and counter-roumor would be started during the various "wars of religion" that were prevalent at that time. In warfare the spreading of "disinformation" to the enemy was and is commonplace. In todays society with the widespread use of social media and the web its easier than ever to spread false news, many people think that if they see it on the web it must be true!
This was brought home to me when I recently saw the exhibition at Tate Modern  "Red Star over Russia" which chronicles the use of art and visual media in Russia 1905 - 1955 Lenin and then Stalin were probably the first people to use misinformation (or should this be disinformation?) on a wide scale. You could see how, as people fell out of favour (and were executed or banished) they were removed from photographs - it was as if they had never existed.
Hitler was also a master at spreading false accusations against individuals and racial, religious and ethnic groups. He was able to turn the whole country against the Jews, the Gypsies etc etc.
This brought me round to thinking about Trump, the Brexit referendum, Isis and the whole current political and news systems. Who or whom do we trust, we are generally very ready to accept "news" that agrees with our own personal beliefs and prejudices. Anything that goes against the grain is immediately suspect. We might believe the Guardian and suspect the Daily Mail, or vice versa. So how do we judge what is real and what is false? With a powerful few individuals owning multiple news outlets the fact that something is spread across multiple news media does not mean that is true. It could be that one individual is spreading the same line across all the media that he or she owns or is able to manipulate, be it newsprint, radio, TV, Blogs, Facebook etc.

How do we counter this and find out what is the real truth, if such a thing exists objectively? I am not sure if this is possible in today's world. The one thing that  we can be certain of is that when the board of football club says that they have every confidence in their manager and that they are 100% behind him that he will be gone in a matter of days or weeks.