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Even politically disinterested social media users frequently encounter news articles unintentionally as they scan their feed Gottfried and Shearer, The ability of social media to isolate people from exposure to those with differing viewpoints exacerbates political polarization. A significant segment of the public perceives journalists as removed elites who do not share their conservative values. He maintains that the mainstream media are out-of-touch with a wide swath of the public.

The New Media’s Role in Politics

During the recent election this became clear as legacy media institutions are unable to connect effectively with the frustration and anger of people outside of high education and income circles Camosy, Some scholars argue that new media are closing the gap between distant journalists and the mass public by giving voice to those who have felt left out Duggan and Smith, The Tea Party, a conservative political movement focused around issues about taxation and the national debt, used social networks for political mobilization in the midterm elections.

Tea Party candidates employed social media to reshape public discourse around the campaign, forging a sense of solidarity among groups who previously felt disenfranchised Williamson, Skocpol, and Coggin, Candidates pushing an extreme agenda have amplified this trend. Highly partisan, flamboyant congressional candidates, on both sides of the aisle, who spark political disagreement and indignant rhetoric garner the most supporters on Facebook.


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They use social media to solidify their political base Messing and Weisel, American author Ralph Keyes observes that society has entered a posttruth era. Deception has become a defining characteristic of modern life, and is so pervasive that people are desensitized to its implications. He laments the fact that ambiguous statements containing a kernel of authenticity, but falling short of the truth, have become the currency of politicians, reporters, corporate executives, and other power-brokers.

Journalist Susan Glasser argues that journalism has come to reflect the realities of reporting in post-truth America. Objective facts are subordinate to emotional appeals and personal beliefs in shaping public opinion. The public has difficulty distinguishing relevant news about weighty policy issues from the extraneous clamor that permeates the media. The work of investigative journalists has in some ways has become more insightful and informed than in the past due to the vast resources available for researching stories, including greater access to government archives and big data analysis.

However, well-documented stories are obscured by the constant drone of repetitive, sensationalized trivia-bites that dominate old and new media. Post-truth media was prominent during the presidential election. Media accounts of the election were infused with misinformation, baseless rumors, and outright lies.

False stories and unverified factoids emanated from fabricated news sites as well as the social media accounts of the candidates and their surrogates. Republican nominee Donald Trump used his Twitter feed to push out sensational, unverified statements that would dominate the news agenda, a practice he maintained after assuming the presidency. He alleged that the father of Ted Cruz, his challenger for the nomination, was involved in the assassination of President John F.

False news stories infiltrated reports by legacy media organizations as they relied heavily on digital sources for information. Contrived controversies detract from coverage of important issues related to policy, process, and governance Horton, The feud dominated coverage of the battle over tax legislation on new media, and commanded the front page of The New York Times.

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The most extreme illustration of the concept of post-truth reporting is the rise of fake news. The definition of fake news has shifted over time, and continues to be fluid. During the campaign, the concept of fake news was attached to fictitious stories made to appear as if they were real news articles. These stories were disseminated on websites that had the appearance of legitimate news platforms or blogs, such as Infowars , The Rightest , and National Report.

A compilation documented sites that routinely publish fake news Chao, et al. Authors are paid—sometimes thousands of dollars—to write or record false information. Some of these authors are based in locations outside of the United States, including Russia Shane, They make use of social media interactions and algorithms to disseminate content to specific ideological constituencies.

Fabricated stories are spread virally by social bots, automated software that replicates messages by masquerading as a person Emerging Technology from the arXiv, While some fake news stories are outright fabrications, others contain elements of truth that make them seem credible to audiences ensconced in echo chambers. Conspiracy theories, hoaxes, and lies were spread efficiently through Facebook, Snapchat, and other social media, and reached millions of voters in the election Oremus, For example, a fabricated story on The Denver Gardian , a fake site meant to emulate the legitimate newspaper, The Denver Post , reported that an F.

Conditions in the new media age have been ripe for the proliferation of fake news. The new media system has lifted many of the obstacles to producing and distributing news that were present in the previous mass media age. While vestiges of the digital divide persist, especially among lower-income families Klein, , barriers to new media access have been lowered.


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The cost of producing and distributing information on a wide scale have been reduced. The logistics and skills necessary to create content are less formidable. Social networking sites make it possible to build and maintain audiences of like-minded people who will trust posted content. Fake news proliferates widely through social media, especially Facebook and Twitter. In fact, fake news stories are spread more widely on Facebook than factual mainstream media reports Silverman, Audiences are fooled and confused by fake news, which confounds basic facts about politics and government with fiction.

Finally, legal challenges to fake news and the distribution of false content are much more difficult to pose, as it is costly and time-consuming to sue publishers for spreading false information. An alternative meaning of fake news emerged after the presidential election. This is an apple.

Some people might try to tell you this is a banana. They might scream banana, banana, banana, over and over and over again. They might put banana in all caps. You might even start to believe that this is a banana. Facts are facts. They are indisputable. There is no alternative to a fact. Facts explain things.

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What they are, how they happened. Facts are not interpretations. Once facts are established, opinions can be formed. The notion of the press as a political watchdog casts the media as a guardian of the public interest. The watchdog press provides a check on government abuses by supplying citizens with information and forcing government transparency. New media have enhanced the capacity of reporters to fulfill their watchdog role, even in an era of dwindling resources for investigative journalism.

Information can be shared readily through formal media sources, as local news outlets can pass information about breaking events to national organizations. News also can be documented and shared by citizens through social networks.

Federalism: Crash Course Government and Politics #4

Countering outright lies by public officials has almost become an exercise in futility, even as fact-checking has become its own category of news. Sites focusing on setting the record straight, such as PolitiFact, Snopes, and FactCheck, can barely keep pace with the amount of material that requires checking Despite these efforts, false information on the air and online has multiplied.

There is evidence to suggest that the new media allow political leaders to do an end-run around the watchdog press. In some ways, the press has moved from being a watchdog to a mouthpiece for politicians. This tendency is exacerbated by the fact that there is a revolving door where working journalists move between positions in the media and government. Some scholars maintain that this revolving door compromises the objectivity of journalists who view a government job as the source of their next paycheck Shepard, The media act as a mouthpiece for political leaders by publicizing their words and actions even when their news value is questionable.

President Donald Trump uses Twitter as a mechanism for getting messages directly to his followers while averting journalistic and political gatekeepers, including high ranking members of his personal staff. Yet the press act as a mouthpiece by promoting his tweets. A silly or vicious tween can dominate several news cycles.

Tweeting is like a typewriter—when I put it out, you put it immediately on your show. But, social media, without social media, I am not sure that we would be here talking I would probably not be here talking Tatum, When rumors and conspiracy theories are believed, they can have serious consequences. The Twitter hashtag pizzagate began trending. Believing the rumors to be true, a man drove from North Carolina to liberate the purported child sex slaves. He fired an assault rifle inside the pizza restaurant as staff and patrons fled. He is currently serving a four-year prison sentence Aisch, et al.

New media have both expanded and undercut the traditional roles of the press in a democratic society. On the positive side, they have vastly increased the potential for political information to reach even the most disinterested citizens. They enable the creation of digital public squares where opinions can be openly shared. They have created new avenues for engagement that allow the public to connect in new ways with government, and to contribute to the flow of political information. At the same time, the coalescence of the rise of new media and post-truth society has made for a precarious situation that subverts their beneficial aspects.

Presently, it appears as if there are few effective checks on the rising tide of false information. The ambiguous position of the media as a mouthpiece for politicians renders journalists complicit in the proliferation of bad information and faulty facts. However, the current era may mark a new low for the democratic imperative of a free press.

Allcott, Hunt, and Matthew Gentzkow.

Capitalism and Democracy

Washington, D. Camosy, Charles. As Samuel Huntington has written, liberty is "the peculiar virtue of democracy. Moreover, governments that are accountable to the public are less likely to deprive their citizens of human rights.

Anxieties of Democracy: The Inaugural Democracy Papers » Anxieties of Democracy and Distribution

The global spread of democracy is likely to bring greater individual liberty to more and more people. Even imperfect and illiberal democracies tend to offer more liberty than autocracies, and liberal democracies are very likely to promote liberty. Freedom House's survey of "Freedom in the World" found that 79 out of democracies could be classified as "free" and 39 were "partly free" and, of those, 29 qualified as "high partly free.

The case for the maximum possible amount of individual freedom can be made on the basis of utilitarian calculations or in terms of natural rights. The utilitarian case for increasing the amount of individual liberty rests on the belief that increased liberty will enable more people to realize their full human potential, which will benefit not only themselves but all of humankind. This view holds that greater liberty will allow the human spirit to flourish, thereby unleashing greater intellectual, artistic, and productive energies that will ultimately benefit all of humankind.

The rights-based case for liberty, on the other hand, does not focus on the consequences of increased liberty, but instead argues that all men and women, by virtue of their common humanity, have a right to freedom.