Friday, November 18, 2016 at 6:52 AM

‘UnLike’ Facebook for Facilitating Trump’s ‘Post-Truth’ Run to the White House

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

It’s plain for all to see that a ‘President Trump’ would lead America down an Orwellian rabbit hole, into a post-fact world where leaders in every facet of life propagate lies as truth and engage in dystopian doublespeak.

(“‘October Surprise’: New York Times Publishes (one year of) Trump’s Tax Returns,’” The iPINIONS Journal, October 3, 2016)

I spent much of the U.S. presidential election bemoaning the willingness of so many people to believe a “big lie.” “Trump’s ‘Law and Order’ Doublespeak Has RNC Raving and Roiling,” July 20, 2016, highlights this. I found it particularly dismaying that their willingness often meant rejecting the plain truth … with Trumpian arrogance.

liessBut this post-election fingerpointing at Facebook might explain that epidemic of ignorance:

The top malicious fake news stories actually outperformed legitimate news stories shared by some of the most popular media companies…

The top 20 fake news stories collectively got more engagements — shares, likes, and comments — than 20 factually accurate news stories shared by mainstream news outlets…

Unscrupulous hoaxers are using Facebook to spread bald-faced lies — and there’s a growing body of evidence to suggest that they may have had an impact on people’s voting decisions in a historic presidential election.

(Business Insider, November 17, 2016)

Who knew Facebook’s iconic “f” also stands for fake; or that the news most users “Like” is often a “Li*e.”

As it happens, I avoid all social media like the plague. This report merely validates my long-standing disdain. Here, for example, is how I ranted about Twitter, which is to fake feuds what Facebook is to fake news:

A sure sign of the oft-cited decline of Western civilization is a faux celebrity like Kim Kardashian making more money writing idle-minded tweets about her cash-driven life than a Pulitzer Prize-winning author like Philip Roth makes writing psychoanalytical books about his angst-ridden life…

What is surprising, however, is that erstwhile pillars of Western civilization are taking to Twitter like hood rats to crack…

So just imagine what this portends for public debate – having politicians, CEOs, and professors compete with celebrities, athletes, and trolls to see who can attract the most twits with their mindless tweets on everything from public policy to daily gossip. And let’s face it, getting self-interested attention seems to be the prevailing reason for tweeting. And every tweeting twit in the twitterverse seems to think that the only way to get it is to be as obnoxious, incendiary, and/or bellicose as possible.

(“Twitter Rant: Take 2,” The iPINIONS Journal, November 27, 2012)

screen-shot-2016-11-07-at-6-12-00-pmWhich brings me to the dystopian way Oxford Dictionaries marked the election of Donald J. Trump as the most powerful demagogue in the world:

It’s official: Truth is dead…

Oxford Dictionaries has selected ‘post-truth’ as 2016’s international word of the year, after the contentious ‘Brexit’ referendum and an equally divisive U.S. presidential election caused usage of the adjective to skyrocket, according to the Oxford University Press…

The dictionary defines ‘post-truth’ as ‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.’

(Washington Post, November 16, 2016)

The prophetic world of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-four (1949) is frightening. But that has nothing on Trump and the triumph of fake news, to say nothing of the inevitable things his presidency portends.

In fairness to Trump, though, he has nothing on Vladimir Putin. Not least because unchecked despots propagate fake news on a far greater scale and benefit from it to a far greater degree.

Frankly, fake news is just another name for propaganda — the lifeblood of totalitarian regimes like Putin’s Russia. And they use absolute control of the media at home to feed it to their people like manna from Heaven, and press freedoms abroad to poison democratic processes like the Brexit referendum and the U.S. presidential election.

So, with respect to the latter, beware of Russia Today (RT) on cable TV and Sputnik online. Because they are so dedicated to peddling Putin’s propaganda, they make Fox News, which peddles the Republican Party’s propaganda, look truly “fair and balanced.”

Related commentaries:
October surprise
Trump’s law and order
Twitter

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