fake news

Fake news: the juicy organized lie market

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It is the new scourge of the online press, social networks and even the political world. The fake newsThe Internet is full of false news, or false news in good French, and is widely relayed by social networks. Recent initiatives launched by Facebook or The World are still struggling to cope with this mass phenomenon. In order to effectively combat fake newsHowever, it is still necessary to understand why they exist and how they spread.

Sf we are only at the level of intentions, we know that different states, parties, currents, pressure groups, may have an interest in creating false news to influence opinion. It is ancient and we can classify these manipulations of information in what is commonly known as the "soft power".

Advertising at the heart of the mechanism

These principals therefore call on agencies specialising in the creation of false news. According to specialists, there are tens of thousands of sites producing false information in the world! These false news are then launched and relayed massively by their creators, helped by robots on social networks, mainly on Facebook and Twitter. Mass propaganda, industrialized and robotic.

Then it is the snowball effect, because each of us relays, often without knowing it, these lies. Since human beings trust their loved ones more than the media, a fake news of a dubious site relayed by someone close to us is always more credible in our eyes than real news, published by a known site.

If money is the sinews of war, advertising is the sinews of the Internet. Indeed, most websites are largely financed by online advertising. And the bigger the audience, the more money they make.

While trains that arrive on time are not news to the media, the trains that cross the North Pole thanks to Donald Trump generate much more engagement on Facebook than real news, good or bad. The fake news therefore generate a lot of traffic and therefore revenue.

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It whets appetites all around the world and some have turned organized lying into a very juicy business. For example, the sulfurous Paul Horneran American past master of the fake newswho knows very well what information can become a real "click magnet on the Internet". For example, he engaged nearly a million Internet users by running an article that claimed the Pope supported Donald Trump.

This fake-news manufacturer earns between $5,000 and $10,000 per month in advertising revenue through its various hoax and fake-news sites. Thousands of miles away, in a small village in the Republic of Macedonia, young geeks looking for easy money are finding it easy to make money. also produce of the fake news on an industrial scale.

Raising awareness, decoding and denunciation

Faced with this phenomenon, many initiatives are emerging to counter the spread of these serial lies. More and more advertisers wish to reduce their investments in platforms that do not filter fake newsThey do not want to associate their brand with these sites and because the engagement of Internet users on the advertisements of these sites is less good.

For its part, Facebook has put online and widely distributed a tutorial which explains the ten rules to follow for detecting fake news. Very well done but a bit laborious for Mrs. Michu, who will continue to click on information relayed by her little niece. In addition, the company decided to cut the advertising of pages broadcasting fake news.

On the other hand, these major American platforms are beginning to invest in tools for detecting fake news like Decodexset up by The World and think about funding the work of journalists to do this tedious sorting out. But this system has its limits.

Because of this, the distribution platform and the media become economically linked, which raises other ethical problems. In addition, a group of American activists, called the Sleeping Giants publicly incite companies to remove their advertisements from sites that display fake news. An online public denunciation that has raised awareness among more than 1,400 major companies. But that's not enough.

The ultimate parade of factual verification tools?

It is an illusion to think that journalists will be able to continue to track by hand all the fake news produced by thousands of sites that often earn far more than they do from producing and disseminating lies. It is therefore necessary to rely on independent and specialized fact-checking tools. (fact checking), s that use artificial intelligence, automatic language processing, and big data to identify fake news on a large scale.

 

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The home page of the Euronews AllQuotes service (screenshot). Author provided

For example, a tool such as Fakeblokor Storyzya French start-up company that automatically checks quotes and which is becoming increasingly popular with the media (e.g. Euronews, which has just launched the quote checking service Allquotes), as their method is proven and reliable. Proof that digital is indeed a pharmakon. Capable of generating not only a poison, but its cure.

Jean PoulyExpert in digital economy, Jean Monnet University, Saint-Étienne

Header image : A graffiti in San Diego, illustrating the propaganda phenomenon

The original text of this article was published on The Conversation.

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