BLOG POST (MODULE 10) SHINYA KADONO, Fake Information in the Age of New Media

Today, the social media is probably the fastest way to have an access to information because of the modern technologies such as laptops and smartphones. However, people are unaware of how this convenience is sometimes very untrustworthy and dangerous. In his essay, McLuhan discusses about the new forms of “news” by introducing Xerox and its system, where an ordinary person can be the publisher. He calls this new system of journalism at that time, “the underground press”.  He also argues that “as new media continue to proliferate, the nature of ‘news’ will naturally change too, along with the perpetually renewed revolution in information speeds and patterns.” Today, we have numerous forms of this “underground press” inside people’s smartphones. The example I give is Twitter. A Twitter is an online app where a user can post and interact with messages, “tweets”, restricted to 140 characters with registered and also unregistered Twitter users.

Fake tweet

The picture above is a screenshot of a tweet by BBC Northampton about President Trump’s Inauguration. The tweet is this, “Breaking News: President Trump is injured in arm gunfire #Inauguration” Although, we know that this isn’t true, because Inauguration already happened in January and Donald Trump hasn’t gotten injured. But, what if you weren’t watching the TV during this inauguration and checked your phone and saw this tweet? BBC Northampton is a verified Twitter account, meaning the account is protected by Twitter from any copyrights. Also this account has over 40,000 followers. McLuhan claims that, “among the unexpected features of the information revolution are… major involvement in the lives of other people, and the extraordinary enlargement of the public sector. This tweet caused great confusions at that time and shortly after the original tweet, BBC Northampton tweeted saying that their account has been hacked and the previous tweet was fake. However, it is hard for the readers to know that the original tweet is fake if they didn’t watch the TV of the inauguration or read the following tweet. This is why social media is scary and dangerous. The fake tweet is an example of what McLuhan would call the “replay” , which takes news “on a totally new dimension”, but clearly this one  took the news on a wrong dimension. We now live in a society where we could find out breaking news through our social media. However, one must be more cautious whenever he or she tries to spread it, because as McLuhan mentions, “at instant speeds… the audience becomes actor, and the spectators become participants.”

fake 2

Discussion Questions:

  1. Do you believe that social media’s pros or cons are greater?
  2. Does the character limit on tweets take away from authenticity of posts?
  3. Have you ever read news on social media then realized afterwards that it was fake?

Related Readings:

Sputnik by Marshall McLuhan

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7 thoughts on “BLOG POST (MODULE 10) SHINYA KADONO, Fake Information in the Age of New Media”

  1. Hello there!
    I highly believe that the social media’s cons are much greater than the pros. The only pro that I see to be consistent is the fact that you are able to connect with loved ones online but this same pro is also a great con. Having the ability to communicate with others gives anyone the ability to send and spread false information all around; which is one of the most consistent cons as well. Just like in your example above, having accounts that are verified have the possibility of being hacked hence sending and spreading false information. Overall, Social media is diverging from the original intent it was created for which was just to communicate via the internet with anyone for the sole purpose of exchanging general information; truthful information and not necessarily lies.

    In terms of the character limit on tweets, I think that it’s good to have a limit because it teaches everyone to learn how to simplify their thoughts into fewer words; learning to write eloquently. Also If there were no character limits when writing a tweet, making it too long would make the overall post exhaustive to read and most likely for people, including myself, to just skip through that specific post. This can be proven by seeing super long posts that people post on Facebook; I’m sure we have all done that when we see an extremely long post, right?

    With the current president, there has definitely been a lot of false information spread on social media and mostly for the purpose to just fool people into believing that something happened when it actually didn’t; it’s extremely common. At times, fake news is spread with the intent for viewers to see that it’s fake news and have a good laugh. An example is when all the trump tweets were changed to funny comments or tweets that make absolutely no sense. In general, fake news is always there and at some point, it’s caught, but then there are cases where fake news is spread for the sole purpose of entertainment and joy AFTER the reader has realized that the post is fake.

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  2. Hey Shinya! Interesting post. Although social media can be harmful, I do think the pros outweigh the cons. Fake news may be proliferated by retweets and shares, but the accessibility to information has transformed our generation to one that is more politically active and aware of news outside individual’s scope. I believe that transformation and freedom to share is necessary, even if it causes misinformation as well. Character limits on tweets do take away from authenticity because it creates a lack of context. Shortened news segments leave out details necessary for full understanding. Tweets rarely cover all Who, What, When, Where and How when reporting. I have read a few articles that I have post-recognized as fake. Some of these articles have come from major news networks as well which brings to question, have we always had fake news? When do network biases force all reporting to be in a sense “fake”? On a lot of issues, American media outlook has created mass false beliefs throughout the American people. I think this recent election has just brought this issue to the surface.

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  3. Hi Shinya! Great post! Social media is a tool with which we can reach enormous amounts of people with incredible ease. It allows people to disseminate useful information, for people to check in with their families and loved ones in the event of a disaster, for people to get in touch with others that they may never have otherwise. It allows for incredible possibilities. However, social media should be used carefully. With all personal information out in the internet, identity theft is on the rise, “real” connection, face to face communication has declined and many have though the people’s social skills are going downhill as well. I believe that if we consciously take care of how much time we spend on social media and understand how to connect with people offline, we can better utilize social media instead of gaining all of its cons with the benefits as we do now. Additionally, the character limit on tweets can go both ways as well. By forcing people to communicate effectively in a short post, it could be more authentic since people have to get to the point and not spend time or characters rambling or beating around the bush. However, it could also force people to omit certain information in the interest of getting in the character limit.

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  4. Hey,

    I would like to start by saying that I really enjoyed reading your post overall, and saw some really good points and interesting facts throughout the entire thing. I would think that the pros of social media are a lot better than the cons that it provides. Personally, I’m not addicted to social media nor do I really care what is happening on it, but at the same time I do have all the accounts and do keep up with it once in a while. I think that the pros can outweigh the cons only when people are using the sites in an intelligent and thoughtful way. If you go on the sites for news, for example, and decide that you are going to believe anything you see that is only a negative to you as a person. Everything has fake things and news has always been able to be altered to fit the intent of the writer, and only when we intend on believing things that we know we have not checked is social media bad. I also think that social media clearly allows us to see pictures and keep up with all sorts of things that our friends may be up to. I think that it is clear that the only way social media is a problem is if we allow ourselves to believe things we know to be untrue and do things we know to be wrong. I only recently starting using twitter, not for pleasure, but because of work and I find that tweet limit allows us to learn to be more concise with the things that we write. I think that the limit allows us to take out all the bluster and get straight to the point of the issues that we are trying to talk about. I think that the authenticity of the tweet is not compromised when we choose to say fewer words, as long as we adjust the tweet accordingly. Don’t tweet big crash because of a horse, for example, tweet big crash on the highway, truck open, horse loose. I think only when we allow things to sound wrong do they look wrong, and that we should take care to not write things that may be taken wrong. Lastly, I have read fake news on media, but I’ve known it to be wrong. I usually only read The New York Times, the Newyorker, Fox, Business Insider, and the Washington Post, so when I read something that I do not see any other place I’m usually good to realize that it is wrong. All in all, I really did enjoy reading your post on Social Media and the scares that can come from it.

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  5. Hi there, what a relevant topic in American politics. I think that the pros of social media concerning the dissemination of news far outweigh the cons, but only for the type of person who goes out of their way to double-check and validate major pieces of news. For that type of person, social media drastically cuts the time between an event occurring and the person hearing about it. However, for people who do not go out of their way to validate news, social media can be catastrophic. We saw this play out in the 2016 election, when it was found that ridiculous quantities of unverified, false news stories were being circulated on websites like Facebook. Because the advantage for those who check news for themselves is merely one of convenience, and the disadvantage for others is one of catastrophe, I would say that, overall, the pros of social media as a news source do not outweigh the cons.
    Also, concerning Twitter, I don’t think the brevity of a tweet detracts from the authenticity of its content, but it certainly impacts its comprehensiveness. A tweet in a vacuum should never be considered as a valid news source without reading a full news article addressing all of the details (A Tweet in a Vacuum sounds like it’d be a pretty cool book title for a summary of 2017 political discourse).

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  6. Hey Shinya, thanks for the interesting post. I enjoyed reading about these tweets, and I thought you chose two tweets that were really relevant to current events, which I appreciated. I hadn’t heard about this tweet until now, and I am actually kind of shocked that an account with over 40,000 followers would let such misinformation slip through their account. However, it is also believable for me since I feel there are a lot of people who would like to take advantage of a situation to get people aroused and excited, which would lead them to tweeting out misinformation like this. An example I can think of is with the president himself, and his method of tweeting out political facts that can be readily disproven. An article that might be of interest to you is Lauren Duca’s article on Teen Vogue about Trump and gaslighting, which is a term that means altering someone’s perceptions by making them question their own reality. Although Trump’s tweets are not as serious as this BBC tweet, it is an interesting phenomenon that a number of different entities are tweeting these “fake news” tweets.

    Despite the reasons I listed above, I think social media has more pros than cons. I think that the opportunity to participate in discourse with a wide variety of people is an important plus to society, one that we couldn’t have if we had stuck to methods of “Old Journalism,” that McLuhan references. Building off that, I think the importance of having that perspective on “the ground” can’t be overstated, since this allows for multiple viewpoints on a matter to open up instead of the traditional binary viewpoints that “Old Journalism offered.

    I do think the character limit does harm the meaning of my tweets rather than help them, although I do appreciate the intentions behind this rule. I think it might just be that I’m a verbose person when writing, but whenever I try to respond to someone on Twitter I find it hard to do that in a short tweet that cogently expresses my thoughts. I also find it a bit weird to use multiple tweets in a response, but that might just be me. Finally, I have definitely seen instances of fake news on social media then realized it was disingenuous later. This has happened to me when I am scanning Twitter for news regarding NBA trades and free agencies, and there are often less credible sources that still have a blue-check mark that tweet that some trade is rumored. However, a larger news outlet soon follows up on that story and usually disproves it. It is definitely a bit frustrating having to contend with fake stories, but I appreciate the bigger accounts that come and set the story straight.

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  7. Hello Shinya! I appreciate your blog post about the rise of “fake news” and social media’s part in the spread of this false information, and I think you make some great points about its consequences. I enjoyed how you were able to link the issues with today’s information dissemination with McLuhan’s ideas from a different generation and highlighting its relevance today. To answer your first question, I think that social media’s pros actually outweigh it cons. The speed at which social media allows for the spread of information has enable many revolutions to take place and allowed for more “freedom” in the world. A great example of this, is Twitter and the role the social media site played in the Syrian revolution known as the Arab Spring.

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