Thursday, February 2, 2017

Confessions of a Fake News Producer

Alan Montgomery (who uses the pen name Jestin Coler) is the creator of over a dozen fake news websites that focus on appealing to right winged Americas. How do I know all of his produced articles are fake news? He said that was his goal. In an interview, Alan was recorded saying: "The whole idea from the start was to build a site that could kind of infiltrate the echo chambers of the alt-right, publish blatantly or fictional stories and then be able to publicly denounce those stories and point out the fact that they were fiction." The fake articles were supposedly only meant to fool republican’s in order to discredit them later for believing something that was a fake story in the first place, but it has gone beyond this main goal. In the same interview comments were read that were posted on an article he wrote titled “City in Michigan first to fully implement Sharia Law.” It was said this article (as well as most of the other fake articles he has produced) connected mostly with Trump supports, as well as other republicans, who posted comments on said article saying extremely violent things toward Muslims and the Islamic religion because they truly thought what the article they read was true. These kinds of provoking articles lead to violence and discrimination even though the article was fake, and even though it wasn’t the original goal of the creator. People today don’t know how to distinguish fake news from reality, so when they see things like the article mentioned above they cling onto it and won’t believe it’s fake even when the creator himself says it is.
The idea of “fake news” has become a huge topic and a serious problem over the course of the past couple years, and many people are finding it hard to distinguish what is fake news and what isn’t. Many Americas get their news from social media such as Facebook, blogs, or Twitter. Social media is where articles produced by people like Alan Montgomery are most likely to show up because it has the biggest chance of gaining a large audience. On social media, content creators are also allowed to use a more lax and informal rhetoric in order to appeal to the masses. They don’t have to include fact, statistics, or proof for people to believe it, and that’s what they bank on. People see these types of articles on the pages of either far left or far right organizations and connect to them immediately based off of the wording and the titles. Often people who see these articles believe them without any backing because the article follows their personal or political beliefs about a situation or topic. This has eliminated the need for people to be factual in their writing, as well as eliminated the need to produce long and detailed articles about a topic. When these types of articles are consumed by the public a type of thinking arises that leads people to believe that the true facts are only what connects to their personal beliefs and anything else is “fake news.”
So how does the type of rhetoric seen in these types of articles directly effect the people who read them? An example of the effects can be seen in a recent news story about a man who open fired in a pizza shop because he read an article that claimed Hillary Clinton and her chief of staff ran a child sex slave operation in that very pizza shop. The idea that Hillary Clinton and her Chief of staff were doing this was given the title “Pizzagate” (I can't believe that's the title either) and was widely believed by many people. This ridiculous story was even brought up by the national security advisor’s son, and chief of staff, Micheal G. Flynn in a tweet:
Some may think (I know I do) “how can such a blatant and crazy lie be spread and promoted as fact by someone in such a high position?” Many would say this can be connected with the idea that the extreme left or extreme right will do anything to spread lies about the other side to their audience, and I agree. The popularity of fake new is so great that people in power are starting to agree with and spread these types of blatant lies without any backing whatsoever because their supporters believe it so completely. Even Trump adds to the fire by being one of the biggest instigators of the idea that “most news is fake news and the media is only composed of liars.” This type of ridiculous thinking, and the spreading of false information, is what’s killing the media and real news, and is part of what is driving a divide in this country. 

NOTE: the Youtube link is a satirical video created by a well known left leaning show, but includes an interview with Alan Montgomery. 

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