On fake news and tantrums about it

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One of the more recent facepalm-worthy stunts committed by a prominent personality was demonstrated yesterday by way of premature chest-thumping and gloating via media declaration that several opposition politicians critical of the Duterte administration were involved in a conspiracy with terrorist groups in Marawi city.

None other than DOJ Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre, in vulpine triumph in front of the cameras, named several key politicians to being in cahoots with Maute leaders with the goal of destabilizing the government and do a power-grab for the Liberal Party.

Less than a day after that, the same person was apologizing all over the place because of being ‘confused’ about reports he received. This is the kind of thing that makes you so embarrassed for someone that you need to put hands over your eyes while reading all the details about such a monumental gaffe. You’d think a lawyer would have the common sense to actually have SOLID (or at least a small piece of it) evidence first in his possession before grandstanding all over the media. Apparently the only leverage the justice secretary was counting on were ‘reports’. As for his sources, he did not elaborate.

Once again, that much ballyhooed term of late called ‘fake news’ was thrown in the equation. It did not help that Aguirre is part of an administration being heckled by the old guard for peddling fake news because of the total lack of corporate media support enjoyed by the previous administration. What the administration lacked for in that department, made up for its overwhelming social media presence with the likes of bloggers Mocha Uson, Sass Rogando Sassot, and Thinking Pinoy.

That they were ‘lowly’ bloggers and not actual ‘journalists’ had been enough for people (especially critics of the administration) to buy and label them peddlers of such fakery.  The way people from both sides of the camp react to it, you’d think fake news’ inception was just a few hours ago; or that corporate media is incapable of doing it.

But corporate-owned establishments like Rappler and The Philippine Daily Inquirer—collectively identified as propaganda machines of the Liberal Party and the Aquinos—have been hit with similar accusations and even criticized with going as far as fear-mongering just to generate more profit.

One man’s fake news is the opposing side’s legitimate information.

As early as 1835 broadsheets like The New York Sun had been guilty of doing the same practice. As what was said in this article that appeared in The Economist:

The fantastical reports had in fact been concocted by Richard Adams Locke, the Sun’s editor. Herschel was conducting genuine astronomical observations in South Africa. But Locke knew it would take months for his deception to be revealed, because the only means of communication with the Cape was by letter. The whole thing was a giant hoax – or, as we would say today, “fake news”. This classic of the genre illuminates the pros and cons of fake news as a commercial strategy – and helps explain why it has re-emerged in the internet era.

And here lies the problematic perspective that the average person is saddled with. On one hand you have the extreme conspiracy theorist who thinks corporate-owned media is up to no good. And on the other you have the pre-conditioned elitist who thinks “legitimate” big business media really has the public’s interest at heart.

So where does it leave the hapless consumer looking for legitimate sources of news? How do we make it easy for people to search the proper avenue of which to locate their daily updates?

You can’t. Because avoiding them is a person’s own lookout. Fake news are like potholes. They’re not going away just because a few spoon-fed brats are complaining about it. You can’t whine for every idiot who falls flat on his face every time he steps on one.

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One thought on “On fake news and tantrums about it

  1. False news comes with the social networking sites and social networking today is an oxymoron. More antisocials are born, made and exist.

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