The very strange, strange new world of alternative facts

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Photo by Letiha. Thanks for the photo Pixabay.

In the early 90s I read an article in Time Magazine about the first story to break on the internet. The breaking story was about a death on Mt Everest. The expedition had a website between base camp and headquarters and to get the tragic news to the right people in a timely way it was posted on the site. The media picked it up and ran the story. But, within 24 hours of the story breaking the amount of false news about the tragic accident far outweighed fact.

The Time article said while the internet will play a role, we just don’t know what that looks like now.

That story has stayed with me because I’m constantly being reminded that we are navigating strange and unchartered waters and perhaps while some would argue we’re not yet getting the best from the internet, right now, I’m not sure what we are getting is of any real value at all.

While this post is not about America, it’s President or the office of the White House, it’s because of them we are now hearing about fake news, alternative facts and dishonest media.

We are being told the media is hiding something or simply lying to us. But remember after the US Election someone claimed they were responsible for Trump winning because of the fake news they had posted about Clinton. Facebook has since stated it is going to crack down on fake news. As a society we have generally looked upon fake anything with disdain, take A Million Little Pieces by James Frey.

The media has rules it has to follow that includes verifying information. Which means any statement being released by anyone is going to be checked and that does not sit well with people, particularly President Trump and his White House.

Let’s not forget media’s first priority is to be the first to get a story. Having the exclusive is the goal. Beating everyone else is nirvana. So, it just doesn’t make sense that all media would be uniting to act as one, let alone conspiring to feed us false information.

What the media will do is check statements and if they don’t bear scrutiny the story is dropped. Not because they don’t want to tell the story, not because there’s a hidden agenda. Usually because it’s not newsworthy, or because it doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Which brings me back to fake news and alternate facts.

We are being told the media are getting it wrong because they aren’t covering what the White House wants covered. We’ve been told Twitter, a social media site that’s modus operandi is to attract followers, is a more reliable source.

Is that how you want your information from our politicians, government offices and even big business? Unchecked, unquestioned and with no accountability?

That is the question we should have started asking at least a decade ago. It seems now it’s overdue.

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