The fake news frenzy currently taking place throughout the international mass media and cyberspace has two sides of the same coin at each other’s throats, one deeming the other to be the real fake news culprit and leaving the viewership of each questioning who to believe — or if it’s safe to believe anyone at all.
Perhaps the most passionate opponent of fake news is Alex Jones of the right-wing news outlet Infowars, known by many to be an over-the-top alt-right conspiracy theorist, who has been brought to the forefront of the mainstream media’s news coverage more than once in the recent past. Even Hillary Clinton herself, in an attempt to demonize Donald Trump, brought up Mr. Jones in a speech she gave during her 2016 presidential run.
To Jones, the elite mainstream press is the source of fake news, and likewise, the outlets he points the finger at claim he’s the true fake news peddler.
In the past week or so, Jones has told his audience via his YouTube channel that the European Union is planning on, or at the very least trying to censor, what they believe to be fake news, which would make alternative news sources, such as InfoWars and others like it, inaccessible to their viewers and unable to gain new followers. As far as Alex Jones is concerned, if this happened, it’d be in direct violation of free speech.
Is there any proof the EU is working on a way to blackout who they deem to be distributors of fake news? Where is Alex getting this information from, and is it legitimate and trustworthy?
The Chicago Tribune penned an article on December 7 that took a stance of opposition to social media censorship of fake news websites, reporting that the EU have contacted sites such as Facebook, Google, and Twitter for purposes of censorship of certain alternative news sources. According to Jones, Infowars is top on their list of priorities.
Justice Commissioner of the EU Vera Jourova has publicly stated that if Facebook and the like fail to make sufficient efforts to censor the EU’s version of fake news, she and her colleagues will do it for them via legislative means.
“Jourova’s tone was stringent. ‘If Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Microsoft want to convince me and the ministers that the non-legislative approach can work, they will have to act quickly and make a strong effort in the coming months.’ This is a threat: Unless the social networks step up self-censorship, legislation will be passed to force them to comply.”
Jones has reported that the EU also want to stop news from Breitbart and Drudge Report from appearing on social media.
Facebook has already been caught in recent months burying right-wing viewpoints, and Twitter has also come under fire by conservative-based media for doing a self-cleanse of alt-right points of view. If the EU ends up passing legislation targeting fake news, the social media giants might seek to silence the content they’ve already been exposed of being against.
The main reason the EU wishes to ban fake news is to eliminate online hate speech and take legal action against both individuals and organizations guilty of participating in and promoting hate speech, but should the EU really have the authority to discern what is and what is not hate speech? Also, what else is at stake here? Are the elites really concerned about online harassment and abuse or, like Alex Jones believes, is it just a front to allow them to censor something much more valuable, that being the truth about certain people, places, and things?
Breitbart has been dubbed a bringer of “hate speech” by several on the left, and they’ve even lost company ads as a result of this claim. Kellogg’s and AppNexus recently pulled their ads from the right-wing news website, the latter stating that the content featured on Breitbart is “no different than pornography and violence,” according to the Verge.
“‘We did a human audit of Breitbart and determined there were enough articles and headlines that cross that line, using either coded or overt language,’ AppNexus spokesman Joshua Zeitz told Bloomberg in an interview.”
Does a “human audit” rely on one’s opinion, or did the tech company use rigid criteria to determine the presence of hate speech on the website?
AppNexus did not explicitly say that Breitbart is fake news, but the Verge article that covers the story makes the suggestion that it’s a possible reason the website is being banned. Another theory is it was Donald Trump’s appointment of Steve Bannon for chief strategist that pushed the tech company and Kellogg’s to nix Breitbart from using their ad software. Bannon has worked for the alt-right friendly news organization in the past, and Hillary Clinton supporters have demonized him as being a loathsome, hate-filled white nationalist.
Is this war on fake news just an attempt to smother a specific narrative from the masses like Alex Jones says it is, or is he simply overreacting to a perfectly warranted concern by the EU?
The fake news controversy doesn’t look to be dying off in the near future, and if the EU should take action to silence what they deem to be fake news, it’s likely to not go over well with those who’ve dedicated their lives to providing it.
Should consumers rely on the EU and news media, both mainstream and alternative, to inform them of who is publishing fake news and who is publishing real news, as well as what constitutes hate speech and what constitutes controversy, or should they do their research and make their own decisions on the matter? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.
[Featured Image by Anton Watman/Shutterstock]