Just days after sporting First Amendment pins at the White House Correspondents Dinner – to celebrate freedom of the press – the mainstream U.S. media is back to celebrating a very different idea: how to use algorithms to purge the Internet of what is deemed “fake news,” i.e. what the mainstream judges to be “misinformation.”
The New York Times, one of the top promoters of this new Orwellian model for censorship, devoted two-thirds of a page in its Tuesday editions to a laudatory pieceabout high-tech entrepreneurs refining artificial intelligence that can hunt down and eradicate supposedly “fake news.”But a paradox of liberalism arises here.
To justify this draconian strategy, the Times cited only a “fake news” report claiming that the French establishment’s preferred presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron had received funding from Saudi Arabia, a bogus story published by a Web site that mimicked the appearance of the newspaper Le Soir and was traced back to a Delaware phone number.
Yet, while such intentionally fabricated articles as well as baseless conspiracy theories are a bane of the Internet – and do deserve hearty condemnation – the Times gives no thought to the potential downside of having a select group of mainstream journalistic entities feeding their judgment about what is true and what is not into some algorithms that would then scrub the Internet of contrary items.
There is an increasing proliferation of not only genuinely fake news aimed to distort and influence, but also phishing scams to trick people out of money, into providing information for identity theft, and the like.
Obviously, not everything goes, but where and how to draw lines is not simple.
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Op-ed by Denis Churilov