One of the fun things about 2016 is that every week we get a fresh new Dire Threat to Civilization. In fact we could have made a pretty awesome wall calendar with a little foresight. This month, as folks in media struggle to figure out how we got everything so completely backwards in the 2016 election, we’ve sounded the alarm on: Fake News. Specifically duplicitous headlines which proliferated like an STD at a Cancun frat trip. Stuff like, “Hillary Clinton Eats Two Puppies Per Day” or “Donald Trump Gives Pope Wedgie.” (Note to self: either might be true, fact check.) The authors of these stories raked in clickbait ad revenue, while the false narratives acted as viral propaganda, propelling trump into the White House. Or so the narrative goes. We tackle this in the latest episode of Mostly Weekly.
I have mixed feelings about how to handle the blight which is fake news. Some people would like the government to crack down on fake news, which is horrifying. We literally just elected Donald Trump to head the government. If ever we had a reason to refrain from giving censorship powers to the feds, it’s the guy poised to add neon lights to the Oval Office.
While it’s definitely better for Twitter and Facebook to police themselves as private businesses than get the government involved, I’m still wary of these venerable institutions trying to save us idiots from ourselves. I don’t like the idea of society telling voters, “Hey, it’s not your responsibility to figure out if outrageous stories about Mike Pence strangling an emu are true or not. You’re too stupid.” We live in a democracy and that means taking personal responsibility for what we think and how we vote.
Andrew Heaton is a writer and standup comedian in New York City. If this post made you laugh or think, kindly "like" it on Facebook.