Opinion: Fake News Claims Raise False Flags

J. Jurout

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Photo by Kayla Velasquez on UnsplashPhoto by Kayla Velasquez on Unsplash

People say things

People often post “fake news” under articles. Usually, it’s a false flag. For an article to be “fake news”, it has to have bad facts. “Fake news” is a false flag when it responds to articles that contain true facts. Rather than warning of fake facts, these online notifications of “fake news” may be complaints about a “fakeness” in the spin of the text.

Fake news is a con job. Like with clickbait ads, the presentation is a bald-faced lie. Imposter websites are “fake news” because the whole thing is untrue. The deception is full-on and straight-up. When someone posts a report about something that never happened, it’s fake news because it presents information that is all false.

The false flags online are usually conservatives protesting against an opinion that is not conservative. Some of the commentators use “fake news” as Trump did - to label an “enemy Democrat". Most of these online comments are not responding to “fake news” but to the “spin” in a text. Articles that have spin present real facts but also bias.

But they mean something else

Writers present facts with spin, but they also insert opinions into the discussion. Presenting only favorable facts - and not mentioning unfavorable facts - is an example of “spinning” content. Positive and negative descriptions that promote a viewpoint are examples of “spinning” the style.

Writers discuss real facts when they spin, but they don’t always use neutral words. The terms “increase” and “decrease” are neutral and give off no spin for example. When a writer describes an increase in ratings as a “bounce”, he/she presents a positive spin. Calling an increase in ratings a “fluke” is a negative spin since “fluke” gives off negative connotations.

Articles with spin still have value since they contain real information as well as an opinion. A creator that is pursuing a general goal and seeking to inform, explain, or entertain - might produce a text with light spin. Unintended spin can also be light. Light spin maintains credibility since i true facts. If spin doesn’t seek out a specific goal, it still has some objectivity.

It’s hard to know

It's not always easy to recognize the level of spin in an article. Spin doctors that work for governments or corporations use heavy spin. The amount of spin in their press releases, commercials, articles, and videos reflects their goal. If they just want to inform people, the spin can be light. If they want to get people to vote for a candidate or buy a product, the spin can be heavy.

Commercials are examples of heavy spin. They use real facts but leave out unfavorable facts. Also, they put positive connotations on their candidate or product. Similarly, they place negative connotations on the competition. Heavy spin or fake news is propaganda when it seeks to accomplish something specific.

Light spin or fake news that intends to entertain is not propaganda. The material doesn’t pursue a certain goal so it's not fully manipulative.

Another person’s heart

It’s not always easy to determine the goal of an article. Writers can release light spin one day and heavy spin the next. Also, a creator’s goal depends on what’s going on. Articles written during an election year have more specific goals and are more likely to be propaganda. It’s also hard to assess a writer’s intent if their texts miscommunicate.

With fake news flying around and with creators shifting between light and heavy spin, we should pause before passing judgment. Posting “fake news” under an article with real facts makes no sense. Labeling a video “propaganda” without considering the goal of the piece demonstrates a misunderstanding of the term “propaganda”.

Judging bias requires a look at the facts, the language, and the goal of the creator.

But some people don’t read. This article too. If there are any “fake news” and “propaganda” comments under this text, it will be a testimony to the fact that some people don’t read. But not you. You reached the end. It’s so good that you read. Thank you for contributing to a civilized world. Double thanks for following me here and on my site.

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J. Jurout gives voice to reason as The Happy Centrist in an honest presentation of national news.

Metuchen, NJ
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