Sunday, November 5, 2017

Glenn Greenwald — Four Viral Claims Spread by Journalists on Twitter in the Last Week Alone That are False

There is ample talk, particularly of late, about the threats posed by social media to democracy and political discourse. Yet one of the primary ways that democracy is degraded by platforms such and Facebook and Twitter is, for obvious reasons, typically ignored in such discussions: the way they are used by American journalists to endorse factually false claims that quickly spread and become viral, entrenched into narratives, and thus can never be adequately corrected.
The design of Twitter, where many political journalists spend their time, is in large part responsible for this damage. Its space constraints mean that tweeted headlines or tiny summaries of reporting are often assumed to be true with no critical analysis of their accuracy, and are easily spread. Claims from journalists that people want to believe are shared like wildfire, while less popular, subsequent corrections or nuanced debunking are easily ignored. Whatever one’s views are on the actual impact of Twitter Russian bots, surely the propensity of journalistic falsehoods to spread far and wide is at least as significant.
Just in the last week alone, there have been four major factually false claims that have gone viral because journalists on Twitter endorsed and spread them: three about the controversy involving Donna Brazile and the DNC, and one about documents and emails published by WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign. It’s well worth examining them, both to document what the actual truth is as well as to understand how often and easily this online journalistic misleading occurs:
"Our" fake news is just innocent spin. "Theirs" is propaganda designed to undermine democracy.

Most significant:
Viral Falsehood #4: Evidence has emerged proving that the content of WikiLeaks documents and emails was doctored.

From the time WikiLeaks began last year publishing emails and documents from the DNC and John Podesta’s email inbox, Clinton officials and their media supporters have constantly insinuated, and sometimes outright stated, that the WikiLeaks documents were frauds because they had been altered. What was most notable about this accusation was how easy it would have been prove it had it really been true: all anyone had to do was show the actual, original email that they sent or received, and then compare it to the altered WikiLeaks version, and that would have been proof that WikiLeaks archive was unreliable.
But that never happened. Never once did any of the dozens of Democratic Party operatives who sent or received the emails published by WikiLeaks point to a single specific case of an alteration – something that, obviously, they would have eagerly done had they been able to.….


Noah Way said...

journalist noun propaganda agent, sometimes unwittingly.

Tom Hickey said...

journalist noun propaganda agent, sometimes unwittingly.

Most would probably plead the lower level Nazi defense of "just doing my job."

But there is evidence of many working for intelligence agencies as paid shills, while they themselves see themselves as being "patriots," however authentically or disingenuously, as the case may be.