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‘Pre-bunk’ game reduces susceptibility to disinformation (cam.ac.uk)
377 points by EndXA 11 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 205 comments

The "best" fake news these days is the stuff that doesn't register even to people are read-in on the usual anti-patterns.

Subtle framing, selective quotation, anonymous sources, "repeat the lie" techniques, and so on, are the ones that I see happening today that are hard to immunize yourself from. Ironically, the people who fall for these are more likely to self-identify as being aware and clued in on how to avoid fake news.

Second best. The best is selective reporting. Even if every story is reported 100% accurately and objectively, by choosing which stories are promoted, and which buried, you can set any agenda you want.

Edit: See https://ourworldindata.org/uploads/2019/05/Causes-of-death-i... for an example.

This to me is the most important thing, and has been for decades. When people complain about liberal bias in the news, they’re looking at the small picture - how a particular story was written. They don’t see that what stories are told in the first place get decided by people with a lot of power and money. Instead of focusing on “How should we handle immigration in the US?”, the first question is, “Why are we talking about immigration in the US instead of something else?”

This is the sort of thing The Last Psychiatrist used to rant a lot about. Taking a step back from the content of the message lets you think about the framing and underlying structure being implied by the fact that the message exists at all.

The best comment that I heard about media bias was from a conversation I had with a major news anchor nearly 20 years ago. Off the record she says, "We are biased both ways. Most reporters are liberal, and most owners of the media are right-wing. So most stories slant left, but on the big ones we're forced to slant right.*

This was before Fox News became so powerful, and media became more explicitly ideologically divided. I sometimes wonder how much it has changed since.

But given how any left-wining news outlets Rupert Murdoch owns, probably there remains a lot of truth to the observation.

> left, but on the big ones we're forced to slant right

so peculiar that while existing in a 4d space, we are so prone to believing that politicians only operate on a 1d vector.

Depending on which issues matter to you, there are a lot more than 4 dimensions.

I'm a fun example. Of the major candidates in the last election, preference list read (best to worst) Ted Cruz, Bernie Sanders, (big gap) John Kasich, Donald Trump, Marco Rubio and Hillary Clinton. This does not fit with ANYONE's idea of the political spectrum.

Why that order, and how do the most oppositely polarized candidates wind up on top? My top issue is NSA surveillance. Ted Cruz opposed NSA surveillance and has publicly voted and taken a stand on it. Sanders has questioned it and been luke-warm against it. Kaisich at least made some comforting noises about controls. The only good thing to hope for about Trump is that he will be incompetent. The remaining two are strongly pro-NSA and bureaucratically competent enough that they would have been able to push the NSA agenda forward.

That said, people like me are weird. As survey data shows, the parties are polarizing along the traditional left/right divide. See https://www.people-press.org/2014/06/12/political-polarizati... for data showing that now over 90% of Democrats/Republicans are farther left/right than the average Republican/Democrat. While back in the mid-90s, there was a much, much larger overlap of views.

It seems like even personally identifying as conservative or liberal is a fairly new (last 30 years) change. Time was it meant "stay the course" vs "shake things up", which are reasonable things the change your mind about from election to election, or federal vs state elections. Now the parties are just sports teams, and you support your side as a matter of personal pride.

Look at Reagan's last election - he was hugely popular, and won by a massive margin in the electoral and popular votes. A big chunk of the country was happy voting for a democrat before Reagan, and went back to voting for one after him. I can't imagine a scenario like that these days.

In the US we have only two political parties that are able to regularly elect people to national offices. So yes, its pretty one-dimensional politicking here.

To be fair we were told the immigration crisis was fake by the media until Trump story rating dips and immigration story rating spiked. Basically after the Muller report turned up nothing it went from full on media gas lighting to now front page on every outlet.

This discussion is falling to a trap where "Fake News" is diluted to synonym for all influencing in and propaganda.

Fake News is propaganda that consists of deliberate disinformation or hoaxes. Nothing mentioned mention here falls into a category of Fake News. Fake News creates cognitive dissonance and distrust. More subtler methods work differently.

"But mainstream media also does Fake News" arguments are whataboutism.

I've upvoted you because you make a good point, but I disagree. IMO, Fake News, in your restrictive definition, is to modern propaganda what Bootstrap is to modern frontend dev. It's an easy shortcut, widely known, and even talented operators are going to use it because it's the easiest way to control a (domestic or foreign) population. But resources are there, funding is there, to build much more subtle/complex systems if needed. Cut away Bootstrap, and you don't particularly dent the startup ecosystem. Cut away fake news, and you don't particularly dent the ability of troll farms to get work done. We're in a new era, fake news or not.

The drive to dilute the term is putting a lot of energy into making fighting fake news more difficult. There can be more than one bad thing happening in the world, but lumping them all together is just an excuse not to do anything about any of them.

Wasn't "fake news" a term popularised by someone accusing others of lying about him ? So that he'd look like the victim ?

Fake news was initially popularized in reference to hoaxes and propaganda being spread on the internet under the guise of legitimate news, and the effect that increasing public trust in such stories had on the recent Presidential campaign cycle.

Trump supporters found themselves more strongly associated with such stories than the Democrats (not surprising given his support among right-wing social media,) so they attempted to reframe "fake news" as, itself, a fake phenomenon invented by the left to discredit alternative media out of fear of the threat it presented to the leftist media establishment status quo.

This to further the narrative that the mainstream media was little more than a propaganda wing of the DNC and its globalist masters, and that any Trump-critical stories from the MSM were likely to be fabrications and thus not to be trusted (but you could trust those stories on your Facebook feed about HRC having Parkinsons' disease or running a child sex slave ring out of a pizza parlor.)

And then Trump himself picked up on it somehow and now likes to label anything and anyone that criticizes him as fake news.

Ironically, the least likely thing to be called fake news nowadays is news that is actually fake.

Right on. I've seen an incredible amount of misunderstanding, unusual for hackernews, in these comments.

If FOX news runs front-page mugshots non stop every time an immigrant commits a crime, that shows a massive bias and leads its readership to an incorrect worldview, but it's not "fake". If Honest Truth Online runs a story that a missing girl was murdered by an immigrant based on miniscule to no evidence, that's fake news.

Speaking of, I saw a particularly blatant example yesterday:


I've been following the Andrew Yang campaign since his appearance on the Joe Rogan show and so far as I can tell MSNBC has been at it for months now.

The gall still astonishes me: 20 candidates qualified for the debates, he now polls in the top 8 and betting markets even place him in the top five, and they substitute someone who did not even qualify for the debate for him.

They didn't replace him in the debate, the mistakenly omitted him from a graphic on screen and later corrected it.

He only barely cracked the top 8 as of two weeks ago, and with a paltry 2% with a net favorable of +8 in Monmouth's latest poll, which is not very good. I don't really know much about the guy, but he's not making much of a showing in the polls so I'm not surprised that networks aren't focusing on him.

I didn't mean they dropped him from the debates. Of course they cannot do that, this is already decided by the DNC.

What MSNBC did, and has been doing for months now, is "conveniently", "innocently" not show him in graphics where he would belong. For example, when they show literally all other candidates except him.

Or, when they discussed the Monmouth poll, showed the list of the top eight names (AY is now 8), went through (again, literally) all names on the list up to number seven and then "conveniently", "innocently" on to the next slide.

What the hell?

> He only barely cracked the top 8 as of two weeks ago, and with a paltry 2% with a net favorable of +8 in Monmouth's latest poll, which is not very good.

I respectfully disagree with your assessment because it misses the context of these numbers. Top 8 in a field of 24 candidates, most of whom established career politicians with national platforms, is huge for someone who was virtually unknown until only a few months ago. The Rogan podcast in February put him or his ideas on the radar of many people and his twitter acct went from less than 40k to over 400k followers. He qualified for the debate stage earlier than most of the field, and the "paltry" 2% polling (a criterion for the later debate stages) beats many national politicians like Gillibrand etc. It should also be viewed in context with his still very low name recognition. 2% national polling when most Americans still don't even know you exist is remarkable. It means there is huge potential.

>I don't really know much about the guy, but he's not making much of a showing in the polls so I'm not surprised that networks aren't focusing on him.

I was blown away by the sheer amount of sense and rationality when I first heard him speak. It is so unlike a politician, and of course it should be because he isn't one. More than this almost, I was blown away by the responses of other people across the political spectrum. Specifically, it made me see that I had a completely wrong image of Trump voters. He seems exactly what America needs -- a uniter around ideas, not identities -- and I mean this as an outsider who wishes America well (but is deeply concerned about what you are doing to yourself). I really, really hope that more Americans will hear him out and listen with an open mind.


This was a targeted attack at one of the most interesting candidates this primary so far and it only serves to suppress a viable alternative to establishment candidates that are featured regularly on the network.

>This was a targeted attack

That's a pretty incredible claim, and requires some pretty serious proof if you expect anyone here to believe that. As a counterpoint, they give plenty of air time to a candidate who is literally running as an independent, who the party machine specifically, systematically disadvantaged last time. Why would they cut Yang if he got ratings?

It also sounds a lot like what people said about Bernie Sanders. Nobody took him seriously, and a lot of the press was along the lines of "lol bernie bros" because left-of-center infighting sells ads. I would be curious to see if the people who say this about Yang said the same about Sanders.

I think the truth is more that news goes for what sells, and a candidate who hasn't yet proven they can sell ads is not worth covering by their metrics. See: the $2b+ plus free press Trump got.[1] He was a known quantity no one expected to win, so covering that spectacle was easy and safe ad money.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/16/upshot/measuring-donald-t...

My take is basically the same. The cable news media covers what their audience watches.

It's also worth noting that while MSNBC is the 2nd or 3rd most watched network (depending on the month) there are only about 1.6 million people regularly watching and that number is down 14% year over year. So even if they snub your candidate, it may not matter much at all.

Same for Ron Paul back in 2012, IIRC. They basically passed over him when they talked about the largest candidates by party.

Polls, as we've discovered in 2016, are also largely fake news. To me Yang seems to be the only sane candidate on the left, and the only one who'd be able to give Trump a hard time.

This needs a citation. There was a lot of people spinning polls or making bad predictions off polls in 2016 (like every election year), but polls are not fake news. They certainly weren't proven to be fake news just because some people were surprised by the outcome.


Hey, posting an LMGTFY is basically always extremely condescending and unnecessary. Here's a link that explains the quality of polling in 2016 and talks about some of the misconceptions both before and after the election: https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-polls-are-all-right...

Trump lost the popular vote. National polls captured that perfectly.

The polling failure came in the rust belt where the polling models were not tuned to turnout correctly. Turnoit model is the secret sauce of political polling and the most likely source of failure.

I was betting on the election and this proved an expensive failure for me. However, your notion of deliberately skewed polls by 'oversampling' Democratic areas is utter hogwash.


> I see you're trying to gaslight

Would you please stop breaking the site guidelines so we don't have to ban you?


You don't understand what oversampling means in the context of that email.

They were oversampling to get larger than necessary sub groups so that they could get statistically meaningful results of those subsamples.

As for your first comment swing state polling was more mixed. The RCP polling average gave Trump a lead in Florida. Which he won. It gave him a lead in Ohio which he won, it gave him a lead in Nevada, which he lost.

The polling failure was in the rust belt. Where similar demographics met similar flawed turnout model and result in identical polling failure across the States.

But the irony was the polling failure was over estimating Clinton support not under estimating Trump. Trump got less votes than Romney in Wisconsin yet still won because the Democrats vote collapsed spectacularly.

And of course it wouldn't be Twitter without fake news... sorry you've been had!


Edit, fixed AMP version.

I didn't say they dropped him from the debates. Of course they cannot do that, this is already decided by the DNC.

What MSNBC did, and has been doing for months now, is "conveniently", "innocently" not show him in graphics where he would belong. For example, when they show literally all other candidates except him.

Or, when they discussed the Monmouth poll, showed the list of the top eight names (AY is now 8), went through (again, literally) all names on the list up to number seven and then "conveniently", "innocently" on to the next slide.

Yup, I've noticed that too. Unfortunately it seems he's making too much sense and others are trying to bury him by not covering him. It was a breath of fresh air when I discovered him. I'm somebody that absolutely hates politics because everyone's saying what people want to hear just to get votes rather and only talking about issues at surface level. You can sense the sincerity in Yang's voice, he's not a lifetime politician, he comes from a social work background, he's going after real root-cause issues, provides data to back up his arguments, talks about issues instead of trying to gain popularity by demeaning the opponent, etc etc.

They did this during the Presidential election as well with Gary Johnson as well.

I see what you did there. Clever.

He's probably not extreme enough. A classic liberal is basically viewed as a republican these days.

A "center" dem from today is 100% a 1980's republican. Their platforms are basically indistinguishable.

1980's Republicans supported sanctuary cities, gay marriage, free college, and socialized health care? No, they didn't.

Data shows that the American left shifted far leftward over the last 30 years, with the left edge going the furthest. The Republicans shifted leftward only a small amount. Here's Tim Pool covering the data:


Listen to Bill Clinton in the 90's basically laying down the Trump line on 'illegal aliens':


The Republicans did not shift leftward, they shifted far to the right. In the 1980s, the Dems and Reps overlapped quite a lot. If you go back far enough, they even switched position (Eisenhower was effectively a social democrat, for example, while pre-WW2 Dems were racists). The US didn't even have a meaningful left in the 1980s, and has recently been developing one because people were horrified by how far the country had moved to the right.

You can flatly assert that, but it'd be more interesting if you made an argument or cited some evidence.

On what issues have the Republicans shifted to the right since, say, 1985?

Taxes. Since 1980, they have lowered taxes to ridiculous extremes. Deregulation of businesses. Doing everything to give large businesses, CEOs and large shareholders free reign, while undermining the middle class. Income of the middle class has been pretty much stagnant since about 1980, while incomes of the top 1% has gone through the roof since then. Wealth inequality has gone way up.

I recently read that in 1970, Republicans still supported Basic Income.

This is a comments section. If you want citations, read articles. It's impolite to demand someone here be held to that standard. We know from context that these are opinions, and everyone has the opportunity to provide citations if they want to, but don't demand them.

Sanctuary cities didnt need to be a thing because Republicans didnt care until the 90s. Buchanan wasnt the norm, he was out there. College was practically free then. And ever hear of Nixoncare?

The left today is a caricature of the left in the 60s and early 70s.

The right isn't happy with the right, the left isn't happy with the left, they aren't happy with each other, who is happy in this political landscape?

Bill Clinton and the New Democrats were the rightward shift in the Democratic Party.

As a Canadian, it's crazy that anyone could think of the Democrats as far left. Our Conservative party stopped fighting against gay marriage before the Democrats did.

> Data shows that the American left shifted far leftward over the last 30 years, with the left edge going the furthest. The Republicans shifted leftward only a small amount. Here's Tim Pool covering the data:

No it doesn't [1], using data from [2] and [3].

Maybe double check information you get from youtube pundits, especially those with an egregious agenda.

[1] https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/06/yes-pol...

[2] https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Vital-S...

[3] https://www.people-press.org/2014/06/12/political-polarizati...

Atlantic's chart from Poole says the Republicans now are far more right-wing than they were in 1955. That was during Jim Crow and Operation Wetback, when the US's immigration policy was formally, "whites only".

I mean, seriously?

Moreover, they ignored everything since 2012, when the social justice movement really gto going only in 2013 [0]. Which means they're not even really addressing the meaningful recent leftward lurch. This is exactly the kind of obvious manipulation I'm talking about. Leaving out 7 years of data that are the core of the entire argument.

[0] https://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2019/06/th...

The Pew data, which is what Tim Pool was working from, and which comes from an extremely reputable source, stands strong and it reinforces what I've said.

> Leaving out 7 years of data that are the core of the entire argument.

The study was published in 2014, and it's not uncommon to have no finalized data for the year prior on all sources you want to aggregate. There is no grand conspiracy.

> The Pew data, which is what Tim Pool was working from, and which comes from an extremely reputable source, stands strong and it reinforces what I've said.

Again, no it doesn't. And how could it if it was published in 2014, going by your assertion?

Poole used congress voting records, and racism isn't the only (do I even need to state this?) conservative metric.

Regarding your link I don't know what you think it means. That terms and concepts that come into the discourse are discussed more? I'm not shocked.

Republicans are not remotely classic liberals. Unless by "classic" you mean "stuck in the 19th century".

Ironically, on a meta level, OurWorldInData itself isn‘t immune from that. While I personally love how they build a positivist and fact based counterpoint to a world not built for a 24h news cycle, they are selectively confirmation biased as well. All their facts are aimed towards their main message of „in the grand scheme of things, everything is good“ and they conveniently underreport on climate change and growing inequality.

Kind of a form of lying by omission, right?

If aliens invaded earth tomorrow and the local news decided to go with the story of someone's Aunt Mary who just won a cobbler bake-off for the third straight year, you'd be shouting "WTF" at your TV. But the subtler ones just go right past your filters.

This is why I always try to read newspapers from both ends of the spectrum.

At first it is often very annoying to confront yourself with the different viewpoints and opposite spin.

But you train yourself to read everything more critically, recognize how easy it is for your preferred media outlets to blur your "vision", and discover that the truth usually is somewhere in the middle.

I'm pretty sure "the best" fake news comes from state actors who have paid employees, and budgets, and a clear and clean mission statement (disrupt our enemies). Most news organizations are not these secret cabals where everyone is indoctrinated and working on some dupe-the-masses approach.

Chomsky's book "Manufacturing Consent" is a great look at real world instances of this, for example Vietnam and Central America.

Not that I fundamentally disagree with their results, but the study seems like it has significant bias itself. In what context is Fox News only slightly right-leaning?

Anything critical of the current administration is not left-leaning either. In the past, most of these organizations have been critical of the Obama administration, but they weren't considered right-leaning then.

From their site:

"Our Media Bias Ratings represent the average judgment of Americans. They are based on blind surveys of people across the political spectrum, multi-partisan analysis and other in-depth analyses as well as tens of thousands of user ratings. Our scientifically-generated ratings are fluid and subject to change over time as new information is gathered and biases change.

Unless otherwise noted as editorial content, all bias ratings are based on online versions of news coverage, not TV, print, or radio content."

Link: https://www.allsides.com/media-bias/media-bias-ratings

You can also see that they differentiate between fox's online news and opinion pieces, with the latter classified as being on the political Right.

Well I suppose that makes some sense. I have felt that Fox's online presence is slightly more neutral (though somehow more sensationalist) than their TV presence.

Edit: I do think the separation of their opinion pieces from their regular news reporting is a little bit of a cop-out though.

You're thinking of the old Fox, and possibly predicting a future Fox. Former DNC chairwoman Donna Brazile works for Fox now.

Politically, Fox does not stay put. To maximize market share, they always want to be just barely to the right of their main competition. Since that competition has gone quite a bit left in recent years, Fox has followed. By some measurements Fox is now even slightly to the left of the average American. Fox will immediately move back to the right if the competition moves right, because Fox can't risk crossing over.

You can't possibly compare the endless, breathless, full-court attack on Trump from the mainstream media with their occasional symbolic quibbles with Obama. The covered for Obama for years, all through his drone strikes, his kids in cages, his tear gas at the border, his gunwalker scandals and so much more.

It's hard to imagine a mindset where you see media treatment of Obama as comparable to that of Trump. It's night and day in every possible respect. And the donation and poll numbers from these organizations, which are generally 90-95% Democratic-leaning, confirm that.

There is a dramatic difference between the two presidents. At least as far as I know, left-leaning vs right-leaning isn't supposed to be support-blue-team-at-all-costs vs support-red-team-at-all-costs.

It's supposed to mean, would you treat blue-team or the red-team better for the same behavior?

> drone strikes

This was heavily covered. This was probably the number one thing that Obama was criticized for. I think most people agree that this is bad (for various reasons), though technically it is protecting American soldiers lives. Oddly, we don't hear much about the fact that Trump administration has relaxed rules and is performing more drone strikes [1][2].

> tear gas at the border

I also remember his immigration policies being heavily criticized. Yet, if you look at the policies of the current administration, they are objectively far worse. If the policies are far worse, it is consistent with a neutral position to be more critical of the current administration's policies than the previous administration's.

> gunwalker scandals

While they tried to pin Gunwalker on Obama, Gunwalker was really a Bush administration scandal that wasn't discovered until Obama [3][4]. That was an attempted political hit during an election year, equivalent to Benghazi. Despite that, it was covered even by the crazy "leftist" CNN [5][6].

If Obama had been meeting secretly with the Kenyan government to gather dirt on his political opponents, defending them every chance he got when it was discovered that they spent significant effort to influence our elections, and trying to remove sanctions against them, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that this would be heavily criticized and covered by both CNN and MSNBC. I do believe MSNBC leans left.

[1] https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/trump-admin-ups-drone-s...

[2] https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/jun/7/donald-trump...

[3] https://www.foxnews.com/us/ap-exclusive-second-bush-era-gun-...

[4] https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2012/01/05/144761413...

[5] https://www.cnn.com/2012/06/28/politics/holder-contempt/inde...

[6] https://www.cnn.com/2013/08/27/world/americas/operation-fast...

This analysis only looks at whether or not the source is 'left' or 'right', and not on the quality of the source.

Google also rarely[1] promotes Chinese and North Korean state-sponsored media sources as 'top news', or Marxist-Leninist publications, or the moral and political degenerates behind New Trotskyism[2], but for some reason, that analysis doesn't take issue with this lack of 'balanced reporting'. It's only upset that a very particular, very narrow political spectrum of ideas isn't getting 50/50 coverage.

[1] Never?

[2] Isn't it obvious that we'd be better off without listening to them? /s

Google US I think it’s obvious would have little reason to promote Granma or RT. But they should have a pan-US org like USA Today and WSJ more evenly distributed. Also The Miami Herald is a pretty good paper, better than some on that list. It should also be higher ranked.

Why not? After all, as the article posits, a diversity of opinion is important for the health of democracy. What better way to introduce diversity of opinion, then news that doesn't neatly fall into the socially-left-us-exceptional-pro-business-anti-human and the socially-right-us-exceptional-pro-business-anti-human buckets?

You don't even have to turn to foreign news for that. There's no shortage of diverse domestic ideas, that for some unfathomable reason aren't being promoted.

Oh I agree we should have more diverse domestic news sources for sure. We mainly get the take from large coastal metro areas but many inland areas and some big areas (like Chicago or All of Texas) are ignored. As I mentioned, the Miami Herald is a great paper. Not only does it serve Florida well, but it also has great international coverage, specially LatAm and Caribb.

Your source is interesting, but devoid in those stats are human values, which are much harder to measure and add a weighting to each of those bins that may shift the histogram. I don't even think the framing shown here is without some level of bias, for example, they put all types of cancer into one bucket, they treat road fatalities the same as falls and other accidents. It's very hard if not impossible to color the results somewhat, and it's a struggle we have to always deal with and be mindful of.

Sure, and while biased reporting can certainly promote an incorrect worldview, it doesn't quite meet the standard of being "fake". The game is much more about outright fabricated stories that gain credibility.

There can be more than one bad thing happening at once, and it's not necessary that everything address all of them.

There used to be this thing called the fairness doctrine. It's abolishment paved the way for 'infotainment'.

What's the scientifically correct ratio?

Or is there not some objective standard for determining that?

In your edit, are you suggesting that reporting on a topic should be proportional to how many people die from it?

I'd say no. But people should be very aware that the news gives a non-representative picture of reality. And I don't think they are, or not enough.

I used that example because it's the only one I have on hand. That's the trouble with biased story choice - it takes a lot of work and statistical analysis to reveal.

My favourite example of fake news came from real life. A friend uploaded a video of him salmon fishing on Haida Gwaii a sea lion came and snatched their fish off the line just as they were about to get it on the boat. He ended up licensing the video out and it ended up on msnbc, some news talk show and a few other news sites. Not a single one gave the correct information. One video said it was in california another got the place right but said he was sturgeon fishing another one said an eagle came and took the fish and didn't give the location. Even a simple fishing video was turned into complete and outright lies. I honestly don't trust anything from anywhere after seeing that.

I think if you talk to anybody who has been involved in an event covered by the media, you will find stories about how wrong they got it. Sometimes it will be facts that are reported incorrectly, others it will be bias introduced to push a particular agenda. In a lot of cases simple editing can frame a sound bite in such a way as to bend the story.

I was on a military deployment overseas many years ago, and it was entertaining to see how events were reported back home. It was vary rare for any report to gain more than a parsing resemblance to what actually happened. In a lot of cases many separate events were confounded into a single report and in all cases the subtleties of the event were completely lost.

The result is that as you say you cannot take any reporting to be the actual facts of the situation. If you are interested in an event your only recourse is to investigate the event yourself. Talk to participants and observers and even then you have to examine their and your own biases to ensure that is taken into account when drawing your conclusions.

Facts are for Mathematics, and even then, that is an opinion.

When i was in school we spent a whole day learning how to write press releases and talk to the media. The idea was, don't write anything other than facts, don't say anything not on the press release and be prepared for them to take anything you say and twist it any way.

Errors are not lies. Disinformation is the latter. You should take everything with a grain of salt, but motivation is the critical distinction.

All of the info was provided both directly to the news companies and was available in the description in the original and videos that were reuploaded by the licensee. There was no excuse for it not to be corrrect.

Sure, messing up details about a fishing clip is inexcusable, but you still have a long way to go before showing there was an conspiracy that ensured all those details ended up wrong.

Not a conspiracy. Willful negligence to make their story. They don't care about facts. They care about what they think gets them views. I don't think it's nefarious. The point is if they're willing to change facts to suit their needs for such an insignificant story, chances are it happens regularly with more important things.

This is pretty incredible. Do you have any links to these news stories?

Precisely, the subtle "bias" in traditional news is extremely powerful to pull mindshare this way or that. It's not tabloid level shit like spacemen are coming to get you, but wrapped as trustworthy articles vetted by sources, studies or science.

This is true, but the biggest problem today is people who have gone to the other extreme and have been told to not trust anything that appears to be "trustworthy articles vetted by sources, studies or science". Like, because something cites scientific research, or tries to appear to be credible and informative rather than just straight up telling people how to feel, they disbelieve it because it doesn't feel right to them for some reason. Plenty of examples: anti-vaxxers, Alex Jones listeners, etc.

I'm much, much more worried about people these days who say they don't "believe" in science than I am about subtle biases couched in seemingly credible articles, because more often than not people playing the "subtle bias"/"don't trust the mainstream media" card are actually trying to discount the value of science or peer review or expertise, far far more often than they're trying to highlight propaganda hidden in plain sight.

It's not that simple. A science article comes out and says global warming has caused a total 5cm increase in sea level so far, that's projected to be 3-10ft over the next 100 years. The projections change fairly often. A news-source, let's say vox[1], takes that and proclaims the earth is headed towards catastrophe and most cities will be underwater soon. The average person will never read the science articles that are linked or search on their own, they won't look at trends in science or projections. The average joe will either believe or disbelieve the article due to their feelings and political biases.

[1] https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2019/2/22/1818856...

It will be hard for the lay people trying to be informed to trust 'the science' while think tanks continually abuse science and statistics.

I'm not saying people should blindly trust "the science". I'm just saying the far bigger danger these days is people who blindly distrust science, and think that people like Alex Jones are somehow keeping it real and funneling the truth to them because it makes them feel like an insider in this huge world that they don't understand.

I don't think people should blindly trust much of anything or anyone. But I also think the attitude of "don't trust anything that comes from mainstream media, don't trust expertise, don't trust science" is a hell of a lot more destructive than "trust mainstream news organizations somewhat but not blindly, trust expertise but not blindly, trust science but not blindly, always consider the source, and try to be cognizant of your own and other people's biases".

Also, if someone is so intellectually challenged that they can only take binary, black and white positions on things like trusting mainstream media, trusting expertise, and trusting science, well, we'd all be a lot better off if they just erred on the side of less random bullshit and actually did blindly trust all of those institutions. Because otherwise they're just blindly trusting other people who've rejected all human knowledge and are just driven by emotions and imagined narratives. Blindly trusting the big evil establishment will result in them buying into some misinformation, sure, but they're not going to turn into anti-vaxxers or fascists or flat earthers or religious fundamentalists at least.

exactly. Science shares a fair bit of the blame too. Not enough peer review and verification of results. Corporations can pay scientists for whatever results they want to put out in a press release and there is no shortage of journals that will publish total garbage if you're willing to pay them enough. The lack of integrity and oversight in the scientific community makes it very hard for people to tell what they can safely consider authoritative.

> Not enough peer review and verification of results. Corporations can pay scientists for whatever results they want to put out in a press release and there is no shortage of journals that will publish total garbage if you're willing to pay them enough.

There's a term for this.


Science is science as long as it is used and examined by scientific minds.

Scientific results and studies are indistinguishable from propoganda when used to sway/lead/inform the public. I'm not saying science is propoganda, I'm saying it becomes indistinguishable for those who aren't participating in performing the research or understanding the research methodologies.

It's also been used to deliberately mislead and misinform the public. The tobacco industry had no problems finding scientists willing to mislead the public about the impacts of their products on consumers heath.

I've never heard somebody say he doesn't believe in science, but maybe we just know different people. Scientific studies are subject to bias. Scientific reports are often non-reproducible, yet are peer-reviewed and in the public domain (well, maybe behind a paywall) because peer-review is not about repeating experiments but about persuading a small number of reviewers of your results. And since publishing good results frequently is essential to secure continued funding, there is an absolute drive to push and sensationalize questionable results.

We know that there are risks associated with vaccines. They are not "100% safe" as people have been led to believe (to suggest that anything is 100% safe is basically preposterous). Right now, pharmaceutical companies are being demonized for profiteering and getting massive numbers of people addicted to their drugs (the "legal" ones). We know that there is extreme bias and sometimes outright deceit from media outlets and especially governments. People are increasingly suspicious of all these "experts" telling them what to do because we know that these experts tell partial truths, at best.

So people are expected to overlook their distrust of drug companies, of governments and of media, all of which collectively trumpet the necessity of injecting babies with cocktails of stuff whose contents is unknown and/or not understood by the majority of people of the world. There's little in the way of elevated debate: each side just calls the other stupid. And somehow Alex Jones always comes up, as if he is the ultimate scapegoat for the "idiocy" of alternative viewpoints.

My point is that the issue is not black and white, like everyone wants it to be. It is extremely complex and we owe it to ourselves to listen to each other.

I don't think it's very subtle anymore. It may just be the death throes of an industry that has always acted insidiously. Or maybe the internet age has informed enough people of the way in which the news attempts to deceive people.

And so so many people can't even spot the "usual anti-patterns."

I gotta believe that starting with the basic stuff will be the first step to getting better at recognizing the less basic stuff.

The same techniques could potentially help people recognize the less basic stuff, teach them how to do it.

But I think an equal and opposite problem is that these days people don't believe "real" news as much as they believe "fake" news. They accuse anything that they don't like of being 'fake news' and refuse to believe it, no matter how extensively reported.

I really don't know what to do about that, but I still gotta think that developing basic 'news literacy' skills anywhere is the foundation for more advanced.

> But I think an equal and opposite problem is that these days people don't believe "real" news as much as they believe "fake" news.

This is the endgame, and the reason fake news exists. There's no better way to destabilize a democracy than to cast doubt upon all journalism. Democracy depends on a well-informed populace, and if all information becomes subjective it cannot continue to function.

Fake news is less about outright lying and more about controlling and enforcing a certain narrative. That’s a problem especially when 6 companies own almost all of the media.

I think the solution is more independent journalism. I’m already seeing a lot of it on Twitter with independent researchers. These people have obvious biases but it’s clear, which makes these sources oddly more useful even if they’re openly partisan but independent.

It's... pretty incredible that this comment subtly shifts the blame for fake news from networks of coordinated, decentralized, anti-mainstream actors to the mainstream. It's almost like this comment itself is about "enforcing a certain narrative."

Independent "journalists" are the ones causing a lot of the crisis of truth currently underway. Indie YouTube channels garner credibility by pushing an "alternative" viewpoint that invariably means "asserting that the news as covered by all mainstream sources is actually wrong, and that we are the only ones who can provide the Truth."

We need more sites and journalists working with the strict controls and regulations placed on those at WashPo, NYTimes, The Atlantic, New Yorker, etc., not less. I'm no fan of consolidation, but it cannot be argued that the core of mainstream jounralism is at fault for fake news. WashPo's ability to head off a scam story pushed by James O'Keefe is one of the best examples of why the MSM is specifically credible, and why indie journalism is far riskier.

I disagree that the prior comment "subtly shifts the blame" because the blame as to where the fake news lies has never been widely agreed upon. Refer to "Manufacturing Consent" by Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky. Damn near all sources of news are biased and have political agendas including the mainstream.

If you see independent journalists as pushing an "alternative" view, then you have a reasonable argument: take your facts from the most credible source. But that's not what is happening. Independent journalists are reporting on stories that the mainstream news isn't touching. And they are often doing it with long-form video evidence which is not easy to fake, especially as it is published right after said events happen. Certainly independent journalists are biased and opinionated, many believing in crazy conspiracy theories, but I've never found their opinions or theories to be contageous, and the video evidence is still very valuable.

A good example of news wthout bias (which is so hard to find nowadays) is Steve Lookner's Agenda Free TV on YouTube. There is simply nothing political about it, and it stands in contrast to everything else. And as others have already pointed out, watching news from both sides of the political spectrum (as difficult as that is) is probably the best way to get at the truth.

Finally, while I think James O'Keefe has very questionable investigative methods, there was no scam story - he was using fake information to draw out a journalist so as to extract information from the journalist. There was no evidence he was intending to publish that fake information as a story and he flatly denies that accusation, and WaPo did a follow up correcting the record (good on them).

The only reason people look to those independent journalists is because they notice the manipulation in the mainstream media.

Some people are personally involved in a news event, and they read/watch about it and notice that the report is completely different from what happened, cause and effect are reversed, and the journalist is obviously pushing a narrative that was pre-decided before doing any research.

Other people read news articles and then look at a more primary source and notice that the news was completely wrong. This is easy to do with science articles. But it also happens with video news - I remember when CNN ran a clip of a black woman addressing a riot related to a police shooting. They labeled it as a call for peace. Go on YouTube, and see the next 20 seconds of the clip that they edited out, and she's calling for violence - she's calling for the black rioters to stop trashing their own neighborhood and instead 'take that shit to the suburbs' and trash white neighborhoods. CNN flatly lied and edited in the most blatant way.

Or perhaps you know someone like Jordan Peterson from his work, and then he makes an argument about pronoun usage, and suddenly he's on the news juxtaposed with a word cloud of 'Nazi', 'alt-right', 'sexist', all framed as a question, and designed to create the association below the level of conscious thought.

Others notice obvious selective reporting. E.g. BBC sings to the heavens a story about some Viking warriors found buried 1000 years ago, because scientists thought they were women, but they were buried with weapons. Oh, it demonstrates that women were warriors, hooray feminism! Not much later, the scientists check more closely (DNA or whatever) and realize the warriors were all men. There is no story about this, or absolutely minimal corrections. They didn't lie, they just selectively report.

Or you just look at the poll numbers and note that in all these organizations, the employees poll and donate to Democrates 90-100% of the time. Simple example: Google employees gave $1.3 million to Hillary, and zero dollars to Trump in 2016.

Or you just see the subtle conflation of concepts to create a false impression when you know better. "10 million native Americans were killed by genocide and disease..." When you know 95%+ of them were killed by the disease, you know whoever wrote this intended to create a false impression. It's "In WW2, 6 million Jews died of disease and chemical poisoning" level lying.

Eventually this happens over and over and it because overwhelmingly obvious that this is happening all the time. You can learn about so many things that ought to be reports but aren't, and see so many reports that are twisted in obvious ways.

So where do you go when it's incredibly obvious the mainstream are manipulating you - and are not owning up to their biases? You have no choice; you go find independent journalists with acknowledged biases and try to peice together the truth that way. The media forced you to do it.

I don't have time to reply to this in-depth, but I think that your comment actually elucidated the biggest issue, which is that this demonization and distrust of the mainstream media has conflated commercialized TV news like CNN (which, I'll freely admit, has embraced terrible framing) with actual news outlets (WashPo, Atlantic, NYTimes, etc). There is a difference between what CNN does and what WashPo does.

Also, having worked in a newsroom myself, I can attest to the fact that the firewall between sales/business and the journalists is real and strong. Not perfect, but it does a hell of a job, and is much, much better than the wild west of financing currently in the indie reporting space.

I think you greatly underestimate how much damage even one bad reporter in news organization can be to the entire outfit. During 2016-2018 things were especially bad in the MSM. Even "trustworthy" papers like the ones you listed were "taking the rare step of publishing an anonymous Op-Ed essay". And I'm supposed to believe they don't have a vested interest in the narrative of their story?

Meanwhile the official OIG report[1] investigated the relationship between our intelligence agencies and reporters. Here's something awful from that report:

> In addition, we identified instances where FBI employees improperly received benefits from reporters, including tickets to sporting events, golfing outings, drinks and meals, and admittance to nonpublic social events.

Anyone with a critical mind can see that these things stink. They stink from a mile away.

1. https://www.justice.gov/file/1071991/download

Just another note on your last paragraph - I'm honestly not as concerned about financial corruption from the sales side. That's fairly predictable and orthogonal to most issues that really matter. It's the ideological bent of the reporters and staff themselves that worries me. No different than if the entire media institution was taken over by Scientologists.

I don't see any major difference between NYT, for example, and CNN et al.

Don't have time to list all the eye-poppingly blatant misconstruals I've seen in NYT.

Big recent one that comes to mind is the Covington Catholic story, where the reporters spent several days blaming the children, even though there were multi-hour videos of the whole event that refuted them available from the first day of the controversy.

There are plenty of issues the WashPo, Atlantic & NYTimes are absolute garbage on.

> Simple example: Google employees gave $1.3 million to Hillary, and zero dollars to Trump in 2016.

This jumped out to me as a statistic so extreme that it couldn't possibly be true: Google has far too many employees to have literally zero dollars donated to the Trump campaign, no matter what you think of the corporate culture. Sure enough, the example is simple because it is false:


I didn't look up the Clinton donations under the same parameters, but I'm sure it's not even close to an even split. Regardless, it's simultaneously ironic and fitting for a comment on a post about disinformation to contain such an easily-falsified statement.

The "zero" statement seems to really be making the rounds, used by Ted Cruz in a hearing, by various media outlets making the case for regulating Google because of their bias... I guess "zero" is just punchier.

Fair enough. The figure did indeed come from Congressional testimony today.


Timestamp: 4:00

It's certainly possible Cruz was wrong or using an unfair interpretation. I feel safe saying that the donations would be skewed at least 90/10 and probably much more.

> Independent "journalists" are the ones causing a lot of the crisis of truth currently underway.

Perhaps your viewpoint relates to what you think the “big” risk are with fake news. If the biggest risks to you are antivaxers and flat earthers then I can see where you’re coming from with YouTube. If you think the biggest risks are those that jeopardize democracies then I think the big money goes into the MSM to shape our ideas and control the narrative.

It’s made especially dangerous because these MSM outlets are given the gravitas of independence even though the writers are biased, fallible people just like the rest of us. And these news outlets are a commercial enterprise who have owners who themselves have agendas. To pretend otherwise is foolish.

I’d argue the biases of major news institutions are generally more scrutable and predictable than average private individuals on Twitter. The level of effort needed to establish those for someone you just read on Twitter is higher than I think many people who decry “mainstream” media sources like to admit, especially if in a area in which you yourself have no domain expertise.

Going up the food chain, you have major governments, political bodies, entire industries that depend on a control of a narrative.

They say history is written by the winner.

When many things are broadly painted as good or evil then there is certainly propaganda involved.

I would point out that without anonymous sources, there would be no real way to hold powerful people to account.

And while problems like subtle framing are real and problematic, they are long standing and democracy has long been able to cope with them. They are no more effective now than they have been for centuries.

And they are insignificant compared to the recent effectiveness of blatant falsehood and fabrication. Often state sponsored.

This isn't new, it's how subtle bias in the media has always worked. These techniques have been used practically since the beginning of the press.

> Subtle framing, selective quotation, anonymous sources, "repeat the lie" techniques, and so on,

I can recall this being a part of the news since I was a young child, and I'm in my mid 40s. It's certainly not a new phenomenon.

A good documentary about the topic is The Century of Self, a BBC doc about the inception of propaganda and marketing in the US.

Immunity is trivial: all media lie, nobody in their right mind blindly trusts them.

Opinion Piece: "Foo, an alt right X"

Later "News" Article: "Foo, who has been associated with the alt-right, ..."

Later Opinion Piece: "Foo, who is an alt-right nazi, ..."

Key quote from the article:

To gauge the effects of the game, players were asked to rate the reliability of a series of different headlines and tweets before and after gameplay. They were randomly allocated a mixture of real (“control”) and fake news (“treatment”).

The study, published today in the journal Palgrave Communications, showed the perceived reliability of fake news before playing the game had reduced by an average of 21% after completing it. Yet the game made no difference to how users ranked real news.

The researchers also found that those who registered as most susceptible to fake news headlines at the outset benefited most from the “inoculation”.

“We find that just fifteen minutes of gameplay has a moderate effect, but a practically meaningful one when scaled across thousands of people worldwide, if we think in terms of building societal resistance to fake news,” said van der Linden.

The original study can be found here: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41599-019-0279-9

Unless I missed it, it looks like they didn't control for the effects of their own survey. For all we know, taking 15 minutes to drink tea between ranking news reliability.

You missed it

I played through the game and did the pre- and post- game study.

At the beginning, I tried pretty hard to genuinely gauge reliability, and was more willing to use some nuance (maybe I don't think the tweet is written fairly, but it touches on a genuine trend, so I'll give it a 3/10). There was also one that I just let slip by me (HBO tweet with some random characters that I realized probably weren't intentional markers to dodge trademarks after I instinctively hit 10/10 reliability, and also you can't go back and correct yourself).

After the game I was just so worn out I didn't feel like giving any credence to anything. Looks like you're kinda emotional? 1/10. Talking about an opinion instead of a fact? 1/10. From a celebrity? 1/10. It also looked like they weren't throwing in many or any tweets that were supposed to be "credible" or "reliable" in the feed.

I'd be interested in seeing the results 2 or 3 weeks out, and with a more even mix of "credible" and "non-credible" tweets. I have the suspicion the results won't stick, or at least won't stick well.

Every time I read about some new clever way to fight "fake news" I ask the same question. Can this method be used to reinforce any arbitrarily chosen agenda or does it work because there is something fundamentally wrong with the information it targets?

Reading the paper. Too bad the game itself is down. Something that caught my attention:

>For the question about discrediting we used a different non-existent news site (“International Post Online”), employing an ad hominem (Walton, 1998) argument against the mainstream media: The Mainstream Media has been caught in so many lies that it can’t be trusted as a reliable news source. #FakeNews.

This is not news. This is an opinion. Since when does expressing low opinion of the mainstream media counts as spreading fake news?

I think the point is that by presenting opinions as fact and mixing them in with enough breadcrumbs of truth, you can confuse people into taking them as fact.

Game’s back up. I just played it. Takes a little while to load.


Man if you haven't played dues ex 1 you should.

I like how this links to the same site that the currently trending HN post "I was 7 words away from being spear-phished" involved :P

(note: no reason to believe THIS post is phishing, just funny to see the same url)

Doubly ironic since "Simple online game reduces susceptibility to disinformation" is exactly seven words long.

I thought the same since I read that right before!

glances at URL

eyes narrow

"Not this time..."

Really glad I'm not in Firefox right now.

"Fake news" isn't the problem, it's the symptom of a mainstream media landscape which has sacrificed its credibility for partisanship, activism, and sensationalism. People are willing to believe new sources because they don't know who to trust.

Which is a lesson in itself isn't it? How can we be sure there even exists an objective reality when not only can we not trust what we learn second hand, but also cannot trust our own senses or memory? We are in the awkward position of simultaneously needing to be skeptical of our understanding of the world while simultaneously having no choice but to act as though it were correct.

I don't think people believe facebook posts about lizard masons controlling the government because mainstream media is biased.

Where does mainstream end? Is HN mainstream? Reddit? Twitter? Breitbart? Fox? The problem with dichotomous categorization is it loses a lot of information. These are all offenders in vastly different ways, best not to lump and over generalize about them.

When people talk about the "mainstream media" in this context, they tend to mean established pre-web mass media - television, radio and newspaper, and any official web presence by these companies. So Reddit no, Twitter no, Breitbart no, Fox yes.

The game is at https://getbadnews.com/#intro but unfortunately it is down.

HN hug of death?

Reddit, it's on the top of /r/all from /r/science - https://www.reddit.com/r/science/comments/c5ptfz/fake_news_v...

This is intriguing. Assuming more research confirms this effect, I'd go so far as to say it should be taught in schools and should be a standard part of everyone's education.

Imagine a society where everyone has a stronger resistance to disinformation. It seems like it could only be a good thing.

But then how will you build societal cohesion through propaganda? Could be a double-edged sword

We dont need propaganda to stop people from fighting with each other. Diversity is a strength.

And yet some contend otherwise. It would be a great presidential debate question, fill in the blank: Diversity is _______

>Diversity is _______...

...a fact.

Information leading people to, say, shoot up synagogues or churches in a misplaced struggle against that fact based reality is likely disinformation.

But my view is a lot more based on pragmatism than most.

Relying on propaganda for social stability is a recipe for authoritarianism.

Everyone relies on propaganda, authoritarian or not.

You sure? American society is full of propaganda and yet it doesn’t feel very authoritarian to me ...

One could make the argument that the US of today is far more authoritarian than it was 100 years ago before the concept of propaganda was industrialized.


As someone who played a lot of MMOs growing up I think there is a Part 2 to this study that will be interesting to see: does this critical thinking atrophy over time?

I think there is a continuous pressure for negligent behavior that heavily outweighs any good attempts to educate people of privacy, finance, health, news, and many other categories. :(

> does this critical thinking atrophy over time?

And also, will fake news mutate in order to overcome the learned defenses, similar to the evolution of antibiotic resistant bacteria. Actually, I would say we're already well past that point, there's plenty of propaganda that intelligent people are completely oblivious to, some of it is harmful, but much of it is beneficial.

Why don't mainstream newspapers (like NYTimes, Economist, etc) include a list of citations at the end of articles the way that scientific papers do? It seems like this would be easy to do, and would help to restore a lot of trust, because people could easily see if they like the sources being referenced and if the sources are actually fairly represented in the article.

played the game. It felt like I was taking a "push poll" where I'm being asked if I understand a conclusion being drawn for me. I found it to be less than compelling to say the least.

it's a tutorial on how to run a fake news profile that kinda turns into a game in the last 3 minutes where you actually have to skip a few memes to increase your score

There are similar games on Steam. I have both of these:

1. Headliner: https://store.steampowered.com/app/680980/HEADLINER/

2. Headliner: NoviNews https://store.steampowered.com/app/918820/Headliner_NoviNews...

There is also one by Nicky Case that I've played too:

We Become What We Behold - https://ncase.itch.io/wbwwb

I recommend them all.

There may be some signature that identifies real-world fakes, in the same way that the Onion, well smells like an onion.

But, I have a general criticism about this area of research, which seems to conflate the semantic truth. value of content with the content itself, for example in statements like "fake news spreads faster" (veracity is an extrinsic property of data, and not one that is cognitively accessible to its consumers, and so can have no causal role in it's dissemination). Instead, the relevant variables can only be things like: sensationalism, accords with priors, emotional response, etc.

Still, when it

This isn't about using semantic markers to identify inaccurate news. It is about identifying synthetic news.

"A lie will go around the world before the truth has got it's boots on."

-Mark Twain, 1919

He said that way before "fake news". How did he recognize this?

He saw that it's trivial to make a lie people want to tell, and that truth is by comparison less often compelling.

This seems so obvious, but it's so little known. At this point when I read a story online that makes me want to tell somebody else, where I feel "why doesn't everybody know about this", I start fact-checking.

That's all accuracy takes. Just that little bit of skepticism. For example, that Mark Twain quote I gave is total bull. Twain died in 1910 and the quote is actually a distorted version of this:

"Falsehood flies, and the Truth comes limping after it;" -Johnathan Swift, 1787

Why do I know this? Am I that conversant in satirical literature?

Nope. The shape of my desire to include that well-known misquotation in my reply signaled me that it might not be real. I'm not kidding. It was too much fun.

So I looked it up, saw the irony, and left the misquotation in to make a point.

That's the force we have to fight. Anything that feels Snopesish is suspicious.

Is it true that Obama was doing the same thing to asylum-seekers that Trump is? No. Is it true that Trump started the whole asylum detention program because he hates immigrants? No.

Is it true that the asylum program has a decades-long and complicated history, that the current administration has focused attention on the border to deflect from a dozen other issues its facing, thereby highlighting the detention program, and that a series of inhumane missteps have been made in managing that program, demonstrably causing a new level of suffering, because the people currently in charge tend to view that suffering as a form of justice for what they believe is a threatening criminal act?

Yeah. That's mostly true. It's also not very much fun to say.

'It’s Easier to Fool People Than to Convince Them That They Have Been Fooled' Making people take push poll style 'tests' and asking them to then believe they are more discerning is really stretching it.

The larger issue today is arguably suppressed information, which leads people when they find it to jump to conclusions based on lack of contextual data. Ass in 'official' versions of events that don't make sense and you are feeding a wildfire of paranoia

In case anyone has just skipped the article to post here without reading, you can play the game here: https://getbadnews.com/#play

It helps to play it to understand what they are trying to accomplish.

The problem is that real reporting costs money and the bottom fell out of the industry awhile back, so what we now have is lots of people repeating what they saw on Twitter or Facebook and making up the rest..which is passed off as 'news'.

There's something to this, I think; at least in the form of articles that have a headline suggesting strong public outcry to {event} "___(Nebulous group of people)___ are furious about__(thing)___", but upon reading the article we find that the nebulous group of people that the writer is sourcing from are in reality two people on twitter who were, at best, mildly chuffed.

Rather than being an honest game to reduce "disinformation", this game is simply defending mainstream media. It's message is essentially "trust mainstream media". Not that shocking coming from cambridge considering they are at the forefront of cultural war being waged in the west today.

How about get opinion/news from a wide variety of sources ( mainstream and fringe, big and small, national and international, right and left, globalist and nationalist, etc )? That's the only reliable way to wade through all the disinformation.

Especially regarding controversial, cultural, military, trade and geopolitical issues.

If you are getting your "news" from one source then you are getting propaganda and lies. How many wars have we been sold on lies by the media? And yet, we are expected to trust them regardless of their lies. And that's just the most glaring and obvious example.

For example, with the recent hong kong protests. It would have been nice to see what the chinese media or asian media were also saying about the issue. I suspect it's a lot different than the "news" we've been seeing about it in the US. If we are interested in the "truth", then it would be nice to see what iranians/iranian media and the media of nearby countries are saying. Rather than just a one sided pro-war "news".

But I suspect that neither cambridge nor the media they are protecting truly care about "news, disinformation, fake news, etc".

This is 100% false. It is an "appeal to the middle" fallacy based on two assumptions:

1. that all news sources are equally biased;

2. that aggregating those biases produces an unbiased result.

Neither of these assumptions are credible.

1. I didn't say all news sources are "equally biased". Saying all news sources are biased is not the same as saying equally biased. Some are obvious more biased and more propagandistic than others. But without a doubt, every news source has biases. If you think I'm wrong, feel free to look into the history of every news company. Who created them, funded them and who is running them. But I suspect you already know this.

2. I didn't say the "aggregates" produce an unbiased result. I didn't mention anything about "aggregates". Seeing different opinions exposes to you the biases of every news source. If you just watch foxnews or cnn all day, you won't be able to pick up on the bias. But if you watch both, the biases of both become blatantly obvious. I'm not saying watching both somehow magically makes CNN or Foxnews "objective" and "honest". Quite the opposite.

3. Neither of those assumptions are credible because I didn't make them. You made those assumptions in an attempt to defend mainstream media. Which I see all over social media recently.

Every comment about being skeptical about media ( especially mainstream media ) gets met with your type of comment. Makes me wonder.

Infowars: Clinton runs a child abuse ring from a pizza shop.

Pulitzer Prize winning news source: Clinton does not run a child abuse ring.

How does ignoring Infowars because it is intentionally lying make me less informed?

>Every comment about being skeptical about media ( especially mainstream media ) gets met with your type of comment. Makes me wonder.

Our conspiracy has been exposed! Back to Moscow comrades!

You forgot other Pulitzer Prize gems.

Pulitzer Prize winning news source : Nayirah, Yellow cake, assad syria chemical attack, Trump working for Putin conspiracy.

But then again, Pulitzer was the founder of yellow journalism, the original fake news.

I don't think winning an award named after the founder of yellow journalism is anything to be proud of.

"Back to Moscow comrades"?

That sounds like the fake news we've been hearing from many pulitzer winners.

The difference between infowars fake news and pulitzer winners fake news is that the pulitzer winners' fake news has resulted in the death of millions of people and the pulitzer winners should be facing war crime charges.

You mean Assad has never conducted chemical attacks on his people? Even though Syria, Russia, Iran and youtube conspiracy theorists claim he is Innocent, the actual fact of chemical attacks it is well established. It is actually found in victims blood.

And Nayirah was invited by congress to lie in those chambers in order to give Bush justification for his war. None of those parties are news papers. In fact it was the press that ultimately exposed those lies, not a guy in his basement on youtube.

By yellow cake, I assume you are referring to the article[1] that _exposed_ Bush's lie about WMD in Iraq coming from Africa. The article that resulted in white house retaliation threatening the life of Valerie Plame.

In addition, there were a series of op-eds _opposing_ the war by Joseph C. Wilson and others. The only degree to which real journalism is guilty is the degree to which it gullibly repeated what the whitehouse said. I believe we are all aware now that the whitehouse lies profusely.

And indeed, the respectable papers report the Trump organization's meetings and deals with Russia. If this data looks like an accusation to you, I have to agree that evidence is quite damning.

So here is a counter proposal: The far right is trying to discredit and ultimately crush the free press and academia as always. One of the tools is a re-write of history so that somehow those institutions that opposed war are now blamed for it. And the hawkish right who actually did start the war is falsely portrayed as opposing it.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2003/07/06/opinion/what-i-didn-t-fin...

>One of the tools is a re-write of history so that somehow those institutions that opposed war are now blamed for it. And the hawkish right who actually did start the war is falsely portrayed as opposing it.

I've been noticing more frequent references to WMDs lately, which is meant to imply that people who follow the mainstream media are being duped again. The issue with this narrative is that they weren't really duped the first time. Iraq was the most widely protested war internationally in modern history. The whole comparison between modern news events and WMDs is just grasping at straws.

>I didn't say all news sources are "equally biased".

>I didn't say the "aggregates" produce an unbiased result.

This is correct. I didn't quote you. I'm saying that in order for your conclusion to hold, the above assumptions must be true, which they're not. Whether or not you stated the assumptions is irrelevant.

>Seeing different opinions exposes to you the biases of every news source. If you just watch foxnews or cnn all day, you won't be able to pick up on the bias. But if you watch both, the biases of both become blatantly obvious.

There is zero reason to believe that watching one source will accurately expose the bias in another source, rather than simply contradict it. What I mean is that watching multiple news sources will not necessarily help you distinguish fact from bias.

To give an example, if news A presents a factual statement, and news B presents a lie that contradicts A, you are no better off by watching both news sources.

My statement has exactly nothing to do with "mainstream media." I'm just addressing the fallacy stated above.

I told you why your assumptions were false. And please don't use philosophical and logical concepts you clearly don't understand.

> To give an example, if news A presents a factual statement, and news B presents a lie that contradicts A, you are no better off by watching both news sources.

Actually you are better off since you can then verify the "factual statement".

You are assuming "news A" is pushing "factual statements". That is itself a logical fallacy. I'll let you furiously google a list of logical fallacies to find out which.

You aren't addressing any "fallacy" because you built up false assumptions and are now arguing against your incorrect assumptions. That is also another logical fallacy.

You have a very "journalist" way of thinking. Illogical, agenda driven and misleading.

Crossing into personal attack like this is a bannable offense on HN. I don't want to ban you, but if you keep posting flamewar comments, we're going to have to. We've already asked you repeatedly to stop.


>But if you watch both, the biases of both become blatantly obvious.

I don't think this is true, though. You may be able to see differences between them, but without access to the "ground truth" (whatever that might be) you can't tell how each source differs from the ground truth.

The Indiana University Social Media Observatory created something similar: https://fakey.iuni.iu.edu/

It's interesting to play through, and they've created other tools such as Twitter bot detectors to help curb disinformation: https://osome.iuni.iu.edu/tools/

Yeah, they claim this supposed study showed the game increased resistance to fake news, but how do we know that's really true!?

Seems an excellent start, very worthy of extended efforts. I'm curious about the durability of the 'inoculation' effect. Do players revert to their old assessments soon, after a long period, or are their perceptions permanently shifted (e.g., they can't 'unsee' the effects that they've now seen in action)?

How do you get past "Loading..." on https://getbadnews.com/#intro , starting from bsaic ad-blocking config?

Or is the site hugged to death?

"502 Request Error The page you requested generated a server error and could not be processed."

The post about how we live in a low trust society (or at least more so due to the internet) is really ringing true.


The problem with everything related to "fake news" is that it is not in the context of establishment propaganda.

Effectively it is an attempt to co-opt the concept of propaganda but with the supposed idea that there is a certain authoritative group that will tell you what's real and always presents just the facts in an impartial way.

It's quite amazing. What they have done is to create an enthusiasm for censorship. The net effect is actually the opposite of what it is advertised to be. It enforces top-down information control.

In a similar vein, Libra is advertised as a real cryptocurrency that can act as a digital cash. And yet it is actually an attempt to replace real cryptocurrencies with something that can be controlled, easily tracked, and profited from by the companies it was designed to disintermediate.

Was there data on whether it made people distrust reliable and accurate sources?

It appears it didn't change their pre-existing ratings of those sources. From the article:

  The study, published today in the journal Palgrave Communications, showed the perceived reliability of real-life fanfic before playing the game had reduced by an average of 21% after completing it. Yet the game made no difference to how users ranked real news.

Paragraph 8:

> the perceived reliability of fake news before playing the game had reduced by an average of 21% after completing it. Yet the game made no difference to how users ranked real news.

ITT: "but the real fake news is the lying MSM!", etc.

The revelation that misinformation campaigns catering to preconceptions are not actually reality based is an existential threat to extremism. Any post showing that will draw them like flies.

The other popular response seems to be "the article and game are bogus". Not sure how the two are reconciled of course.

Too bad that reality isn't cut and dry enough that you can even define "fake news" unambiguosly, which opens all sides up to enforcing censorship of their particular spin.

Conspiracy Theories make a lot of assertions and hardly ever provide the proof. They just say it, and move along. If you don't get it, you are an ingrate fool.

It makes total sense that the way to learn to spot it, is to practice making it.

Analogous to how you can't do defensive IT security unless you understand how people do offensive.

>buy twitter bots

I was pretty disappointed the game was "you'll lose if you do the stupid thing!!11!". Bots are not that good and are rather visible as bullshit.

Has anyone found a link to the wording of the headlines?

r00fus 11 months ago [flagged]

So you mean Fox News?

Please don't take HN threads further into political flamewar. Those are low-quality discussions and we're trying for something a bit better here.

We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20286990 and marked it off-topic.

I have found those who have bought the most into disinformation are those who have completely vilified the "others", while I would like to say most of those people are the one's who consume Fox News unquestionably most of the people are getting their news from social media such as Facebook and Reddit.

The other majors are doing it too. The topic may change, but those techniques are in wide use by the major media conglomerates.

Every major network pushes their own narrative. I wouldn't single Fox News out at all.

If you're talking about US TV you might have a point, but I wouldn't say that Fox News meets European standards. Especially their interviews are sometimes plain demagogic and not information-seeking at all.

"Both sides do it!" is a really unconvincing argument.

Watch an hour of prime-time CNN and prime-time Fox News, and it's obvious that Fox is more willing to stretch the truth, mislead watchers, and spread FUD.

I would be more willing to single out Hannity than Fox News as a whole. Some of the prime time shows on Fox are opinion/entertainment rather than actual news.

I would aggressively challenge that

It appears you wouldn’t

So, a little nicer misinformation is OK?

Where did I say it’s okay? I said both sides are not equal, and conservative news outlets are worse than liberal ones.

I believe that trend holds for conservatism in general.

Is your defense of Fox News “nobody else is perfect, so why should anyone be held to any standard”?

Regarding standards, which you are in agreement with me on in terms of identifying them:

Clarity in the majors is pretty low right now.

Transparency in bias.

Bias is not really getting an honest discussion on the major networks right now. It should. And the moment it does, there are issues to work through. Some of those may be costly to the majors too.

On some topics, and I have a random list here, bias gets in the way, and the only real discussion is side discussion like ours happening right now:

War (framing in terms of it being generally good, necessary)

Economics (No labor point of view)

Media / Internet (Neutrality, impact of massive consolidation, access journalism...)

In any case, just know I was not intending to make any negative statements your way. Just asked the question to provoke some discussion, nothing more.

I dislike FOX and am not defending them.

The major media companies are all doing a terrible job. Being better than FOX is a very low bar.

I am saying that inequality does not matter all that much on a growing number of issues.

There is a revolving door between the Trump administration and Fox News today, with multiple high-profile Fox News personalities campaigning with Trump.

This is not normal. Previous presidents, regardless of political party, did not engage in this behavior.

Former DNC chairwoman Donna Brazile works for Fox now. It would seem the revolving door is rather different from what you are seeing. She went from CNN to the DNC by being Hillary Clinton's choice to run the DNC, right after the scandal where she gave debate questions to Hillary Clinton in advance.

It looks like this is in fact normal. It's understandable too, since connected people with an understanding of media and politics are obviously of value.

let me know when this is replicated a few times

It's a shame that now when I see Cambridge as a news source I think of their shabby treatment of Jordan Peterson and Noah Carl and discount it somewhat before reading it ... because there are still many fine scholars there.

If only we could "inoculate" people against mainstream media, then we'd really be talking.

That is literally what the game looks for.

It offers the player the option to tweet "The Mainstream media is one massive conspiracy". It punishes the player if they choose options not in line with ethical journalistic behavior (as defined by the game). So, things like questioning the events of 9/11, vaccines, and other taboo subjects affect your score.

questions were framed as tweets from legitimate news organizations that did not include any attempts at misleading the audience.

It will be interesting to see what the data coming from this research and what Google's response will be to this week's Google employee insider reporting that Google controls online narratives.

Something is tampering with news data. Is it the lonely people in their basements (by the tens of thousands), a conspiracy, or machine Learning?

Skepticism should be the default position on every issue. We should be teaching the Socratic Method to our children rather than a "core curriculum" that is designed to program them to become workers in an economic system that is rapidly crumbling and will no longer exist in a short period of time. Teaching people how to think is far more important than any specific piece of information. The problem those in government and the upper echelon of society has in this regard is that they want it both ways. They want a population that uncritically accepts government propaganda, but rejects "fake news" (propaganda and disinformation from other, non-governmental sources). Since the creation of the public school system, people have been conditioned to uncritically accept information (which wasn't a problem for the government when there were only 3 television channels that all broadcast permutations of the same government-approved message). With the explosion of the internet and social media, the government has lost control of the narrative, with a population conditioned to uncritically accept information being blasted by a variety of actors from a multitude of sources. The election of carnival barker Donald Trump (and the rejection of Hillary Clinton, universally backed by the entire establishment) was the ultimate warning bell. Those at the top are desperate to regain control of the narrative (rather than teaching people how to think, which would also preclude government propaganda from being effective). This is why we see such an avalanche of censorship, information control and an attack on free speech (on Wikileaks and beyond) coming from government officials and their allies in big tech.

> A minute ago you were just an angry citizen, now you're a big shot editor-in-chief running a real news site.

That statement is incredibly condescending.

It’s in the context of the story in the game. You first play “one angry citizen”, then you “make a news website and call yourself editor-in-chief” at their request. It’s not condescending. It’s just fun.

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