Unlike many-a yesterday’s bad idea, Fake News is not getting any less popular.
At least, that’s what an impartial history of Donald Trump’s Twitter feed across the length of his administration thus far suggests. Judging by the the frequency with which the term is used by the concept’s avatar and most invidious anti-success story, Fake News is ‘it’ and, presuming it is ‘it’, is only becoming more itself as the long four years go by. Trump tweeted 183 times about Fake News 2017, 186 times in 2018, and an astonishing 284 times in 2019. The economic value of the hashtag ‘#fakenews’ was, at last measurement, £2,394.64. In the West — if for no other reason than for the fact that it keeps alive vast cottage-silos of outlets and publications in the digital economy’s one dependable growth sector, news — Fake News remains as big a business and as valuable as strategically directed misinformation has ever been.
That’s the Western view. The kind of misinformation we’re talking about, as damaging as it might be to crucial processes like elections in the West, represents an altogether more intimate danger in a society like India’s. In the words of Indian journalist Bharat Nayak, participant in the Google News Initative (GNI) India Training Network:
Indian society has been gravely affected by ‘fake news’, which has contributed to a rise in hatred and violence, and horrific incidences of lynching.
It is easy in the West to take for granted the ways in which proud individualism has, in many respects, inured many of us-among-the-public’s real-time susceptibility to outright ‘Fake News’. It has long been asserted by this very publication that strategic misinformation is considerably more adaptable, and older, than many commentators accredit it as being. We feel the biggest problem, appropriately, in the West — with our great freedoms in selecting our information source, our heterogeney of opinion, and our scepticism, even contempt, of the media that our inherited…