“Fake news” is nothing new. Attempts to mislead people on a large scale have been around as long as human civilisation itself. A branch of this axis of disinformation — advertising — has become a legitimate billion dollar industry. Indeed, smoking, for example, was made cool on the back of this industry for decades before the scientific truth about smoking caught up.
When the truth about the fatal health effects of smoking emerged, the tobacco industry paid dearly. But, guess what: the advertising industry got away scott free without even a slap on the wrist.
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There is a reason the 21st Century notion of “fake news” became the trendy “activist” outrage fad that it is today — because social media’s spurned lover, corporate mainstream media, put it up as the modern day “Satan” against which today’s righteousness flock are obliged to rail against.
What has happened is that Big Corporate Media’s travesties have since been buried under a mountain of “fake news” hysteria. The fact is, the falsehoods propagated by so-called “journalists” have caused far more damage to society than “fake news” ever will. Whereas the arbitrary lot who are presumed to fall within the blanket “fake news” accusations of these “activists” of “press freedom” compete for dominance as free agents in the free market of ideas, the chi chi oligarchs who own today’s Big Corporate Media organisations are in a desperate frenzy pulling authority, citing rank and credentials, and deferring to their “institutional” place in society to prop up the remaining semblance of relevance they enjoy within their little cliques.
We can see today how every other item on the social media feeds of politically-attuned Netizens involve some form of gripe over the “proliferation” of “fake news” coming from a who’s-who of “thought leaders”. What is missing, however, is a wherewithal to compete. Rather than step up to the battlefield with bigger and better guns, Mainstream Media have opted for the Victim Card and be the pathetic crybabies that they are today.
Indeed, it is evident today that the beleaguered traditional news media industry are banding together into victim support groups. Look no further beyond the way TIME Magazine have gathered together a band of these victim cardholders to lionise on their quaint “Persons of the Year” pedestal. All of them “journalists”. All of them are either employed or partnered with or otherwise colluding in some way with industry captains.
Only healthy and competitive discourse on social media (the way, ironically, many early social media “experts” trumpeted it as) or any other platform where anyone can get up upon and speak her mind, will prevail as the most efficient and non-biased means to tease out the truth. It’s messy, yes. Noisy, yes. But the alternative is a landscape dominated by self-described “fact checkers” who owe allegiance not to the spirit of free inquiry but to oligarchs who know nothing beyond furthering their personal and clan agendas to the extent of branding these as the straight and “righteous” paths.
It’s time real people take back the discourse and speak their minds — speak their minds as competitors in a free market and not as the pitiful crybabies traditional “activists” have become.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.