Monday, November 21, 2016

The Washington Post interviews Paul Horner, impresario of a Facebook fake-news empire about how easy it is to fool people these days.

Remember this?
Courtesy of the Washington Post:

On why it is easier to get fake news passed around than it was several years ago:  

Honestly, people are definitely dumber. They just keep passing stuff around. Nobody fact-checks anything anymore — I mean, that’s how Trump got elected. He just said whatever he wanted, and people believed everything, and when the things he said turned out not to be true, people didn’t care because they’d already accepted it. It’s real scary. I’ve never seen anything like it.

On whether or not he thinks his fake news helped get Trump elected:

My sites were picked up by Trump supporters all the time. I think Trump is in the White House because of me. His followers don’t fact-check anything — they’ll post everything, believe anything. His campaign manager posted my story about a protester getting paid $3,500 as fact. Like, I made that up. I posted a fake ad on Craigslist.

 Here is that ad. If it looks familiar it's because several trolls tried to pass it off as real here on IM as well.

On how easy it is to dupe Trump supporters:

I thought they’d fact-check it, and it’d make them look worse. I mean that’s how this always works: Someone posts something I write, then they find out it’s false, then they look like idiots. But Trump supporters — they just keep running with it! They never fact-check anything! Now he’s in the White House. Looking back, instead of hurting the campaign, I think I helped it. And that feels [bad].

On how great a Trump presidency will be for his fake news sites:  

It’s great for anybody who does anything with satire — there’s nothing you can’t write about now that people won’t believe. I can write the craziest thing about Trump, and people will believe it. I wrote a lot of crazy anti-Muslim stuff — like about Trump wanting to put badges on Muslims, or not allowing them in the airport, or making them stand in their own line — and people went along with it!

On how lucrative all of this is for him right now:  

Right now I make like $10,000 a month from AdSense.

Must be nice. I don't make anything even close to that.

I guess these days real news is just not as lucrative as fake news.

WaPo also has another story, about two guys who proudly call themselves "the new yellow journalists," and who also make a ton of money writing inflammatory false stories and shopping them to Facebook.

After reading these two articles, and then adding the Russian hacks, the Wikileaks data dumps, and the FBI putting their thumb on the scale, it is really not that surprising that Trump won the electoral college.

After all this was a perfect storm of stupid.

We thought that having so much information at our fingertips would improve people's ability to access facts, but instead we find that their lack of intelligence combined with laziness just makes many folks easy targets for propagandists, hoaxers, and shit posters who fill their heads with nonsense and confuse them on the difference between fact and fiction.

For his part Facebook founder Mark Zuckerburg now says that he has a plan for filtering out the BS and only allowing REAL news outlets to post their stories, but how long will it be before these "yellow journalists" find their way around those new filters?

And ultimately is it kind of too late now that the worst outcome has already been realized?

The managing editor of Snopes thinks that the damage is likely irreparable: 

But as managing editor of the fact-checking site Snopes, Brooke Binkowski believes Facebook’s perpetuation of phony news is not to blame for our epidemic of misinformation. “It’s not social media that’s the problem,” she says emphatically. “People are looking for somebody to pick on. The alt-rights have been empowered and that’s not going to go away anytime soon. But they also have always been around.” 

The misinformation crisis, according to Binkowski, stems from something more pernicious. In the past, the sources of accurate information were recognizable enough that phony news was relatively easy for a discerning reader to identify and discredit. The problem, Binkowski believes, is that the public has lost faith in the media broadly — therefore no media outlet is considered credible any longer. The reasons are familiar: as the business of news has grown tougher, many outlets have been stripped of the resources they need for journalists to do their jobs correctly. “When you’re on your fifth story of the day and there’s no editor because the editor’s been fired and there’s no fact checker so you have to Google it yourself and you don’t have access to any academic journals or anything like that, you will screw stories up,” she says.

If she's right and journalism has been tainted beyond repair than what does that mean for all of us moving forward?

That's a question for which I am not sure I want to know the answer.


  1. Anonymous2:31 PM

    The country will suffer, but survive.

    And just because we fall behind for a little while... doesn't mean we will loose the race in the end. We'll drop the weight when we realize what we have to do as a country.

    Vote, even in non-presidential elections.

  2. Anonymous2:37 PM

    Journalism tainted? Isn't that an oxymoron?

    News should be verifiable. Where the fuck is Cronkite when you need him? Oh, right, he's dead.

    Welcome, ignorance. All those who suckled at the tit of faux news, because emotion matters more than
    than news.

    Fuck ignorance. And GD the non-curious.

    Oh, and fuck Mitch McConnell.


    1. Anonymous3:27 PM

      To Trump and his alt-right followers breast feeding is "disgusting" unless the source is Faux News.

    2. Anonymous3:27 PM:
      Love it!
      May I quote your post on Twitter?

    3. Anonymous6:15 PM

      Cronkite, Huntley Brinkley are all rolling over in their graves !!

    4. Anonymous3:33 AM

      If you're talking about my post, sure. Quote me.


  3. Anonymous3:15 PM

    A million dollars a day? And he's looking out for the middle class? Color me skeptical.

    Oh, and fuck Mitch McConnell, every which way but loose.


  4. Anonymous3:19 PM

    what a jackass

  5. Anonymous3:26 PM

    Trump Nazi freaks hailing their leader:

    I'm pretty sure this is the asshole who's dating the idiot Tila Tequila who has embraced the neo-Nazi movement. Her tweets and interviews are disgusting. And so ignorant and poorly articulated that you can't help laughing even though she's a horror.

    1. Anonymous3:38 PM

      you said "she's a horror" and I'll fix it for you and say she's a whore, the worst kind of whore.

      Plus, she's mentally ill and has suffered many STD's (which may be what made her mentally ill).

      Anyway, she's disgusting and not worth a mention. Her "reality shows" go a long way to having created exactly what is wrong in our country today.

  6. Anonymous3:31 PM

    The main channels could have been helping keep facts and truth front and center by reporting as much as needed on what is real new and what is fake, but they are only now realizing how huge their failure has been. And some, I think, won't correct the fake news unless it's salacious or will otherwise get them ratings.

    1. Anonymous5:54 PM

      They don't care if their news are 'news' or NEWS. All they care about are the ratings, because they bring $$$$!!!

  7. Anonymous3:43 PM

    Oh yeah. Don says drop to your knees and look at all the brown nosing azz kissing clowns drop.

  8. Anonymous3:47 PM

    This is lucrative shit right here and hubs and I are sitting here right now looking at getting into this racket and I can't help but think many of you are too.

    Let's all make sweet retirement money off fake news sold to idiots!

    I found the best website name that is still available through go daddy and you betcha I'm gonna troll the shit out of these douchbags and make sweet, sweet dollars off them all the while they sit and wonder why they are too dumb to get out of the poorhouse :-)

    'Merica land of fucking crazy opportunity!

  9. Anonymous3:48 PM

    OT, but I'll be curious to see what gets said by Trump's voters when Obama's December 1st overtime pay law goes into effect. Over 4 million people are going to be paid for their overtime. He's raised the threshold salary $ to about double what it was. So many people who have been working over 40 hours and not getting paid more will get what they should get. Employers can decide how to handle things--ay, or stop treating their workers like servants and hire new workers, often at lower salaries, to do what else needs doing. They'll complain about having to insure more workers, among other reasons why they think it's fair to make fewer workers do more. And more. And more. How long will it take the Trump-led govt. to kill this law?

  10. Anonymous3:53 PM

    OT again, but there's a story out now that says more than 20,000,000 Trump supporters will lose overtime pay when he's in office and reverses Obama's overtime law. If you google "Trump overtime," you'll see several good articles. As well, the Nation has a good piece on the need to strengthen the unions.

    1. Anonymous6:41 PM

      20,000,000 Trump supporters will lose overtime pay
      You get what you vote for, unfortunately these morons will continue to find excuses to support trump because you can't fix stupid.

  11. Anonymous4:10 PM

    Boy oh boy is the hate and ugliness coming out of the woodwork with this god awful Donald Trump! Amazing to watch and listen. Makes me literally sick to my stomach!

    Switch stories, turn facts upside down to where no one in America knows the truth or real facts.

    This fiasco is going to take ardent watching and unraveling for our journalists and newspapers. And, we know that Trump will fight them all the way! Guess when he spoke to the media folks today that he said he hated CNN! Wonder why he didn't mention MSNBC and specifically Rachel Maddo and Lawrence O'Donnell. Both of them go totally after him and are detailed and good in their individual shows. I never miss them - on every day of the week - Monday through Friday - cable - 5 and 6 p.m. - Channel 66 in Anchorage, AK.

    How soon will Trump be impeached? It is bound to occur as we know he'll never follow the rules and laws of the USA and more and more folks are going to hate and detest the man. Even those that voted for him because he will not provide their needs as stated throughout his campaign!

    Hang on folks - we're in for an up and down ride. The guy is a badly equipped to be even a marginal potus! He'll be a disaster!

  12. Anonymous4:14 PM

    It's time to leave this country. What's coming isn't going to be good for anyone.

    1. Anonymous4:42 PM

      I recommend Syria, I hear it's very nice this time of year.

    2. Anonymous5:27 PM

      @4:42 PM I recommend your trailer park, it is isolated and full of drunks.

    3. Anonymous6:21 PM

      No, Syria is where trump is going to create all those jobs called "boots on the ground".

  13. Anonymous4:57 PM

    July 27 was the date of Trump's last press conference. He goes on Faux's Hannity or yells out an answer here and there on the street when someone asks him something, but his go-to way of communication now is his video channel. Today he put out a transition team video that made it sound like he's out to care for all Americans, but it's the beginning of the end for protections. He made several points about things that he will end or change, and one was that for every new regulation two must be ended--that's crazy. Communication as a whole in this society of ours has never been more versatile and able to reach people, and yet getting the news is more problematic than ever.

    1. Anonymous8:08 AM

      It's looking more and more like Trump is going to rule the US as if it were North Korea. Via brainwashing.

  14. Anonymous5:51 PM

    Add to all this the fact, that seemingly tRump got already in contact with major CEOs of news orgs...

  15. Anonymous5:57 PM

    "The sky is blue. Climate change is real. Jewish people deserve to be respected as HUMAN beings – especially by a president-elect."< On CNN

    1. Anonymous3:38 AM

      The only people that have not been disrespected would be the loyal deplorable trump u turds.

  16. Anonymous6:19 PM

    It bothers me that they are using facebook for free (?) to run an illegitimate news source which probable started out as a prank.

    Unfortunately now the uneducated swamp dwellers think they are in charge, because their “leader” won the rigged election.

  17. Anonymous6:36 PM

    The cowards didn’t even make the reservation under their own name.

    I wonder who is in charge of inauguration day “festivities”?

    Is trump planning on lining Pennsylvania avenue with his supporters: Nazis and KKK? Will trump and pence goosestep to the capital?

  18. Anonymous6:44 PM

    Some here have a few years on you, Gryph, but we know journalism has been dead for a long time. I appreciate your blog and HOW.

    Not butt-kissing. FACT.

  19. Anonymous7:45 PM

    After reading these two articles, and then adding the Russian hacks, the Wikileaks data dumps, and the FBI putting their thumb on the scale...

    ...AND...This election cycle was unprecedented in terms of the bias and lack of objectivity exercised by the mainstream media.

    The emphasis on mainstream media blaming “fake news” for Donald Trump’s election is an attempt to distract and divert the feedback loop developed between the Clinton campaign and much of the press. Throughout the 2016 election, the media obsessed over Trump to elevate his candidacy (per DNC orders). He was their preferred opponent for Hillary Clinton...

    How bad do things have to be to lose to a burnt orange, pussy grabbing, carnival barking clown?

    1. Anonymous9:43 PM

      Remember, the Observer is owned by Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, so take everything they print with a grain of salt.

    2. Anonymous6:23 AM

      OK 'Grain of Salt' noted. So who should we listen to? CNN? Rachel Maddow? You'd need a dump-truck full of salt to believe anything they say (and a frontal lobotomy or a bottle in front of me) .

      How about this as a yardstick to judge the news by: Who is covering the DAPL protests?

      Not a lot of that on the MSM. Peace.

  20. Librarians knew this would happen. We've fought to have information literacy be part of the curriculum. To put certificated librarians in every school. To teach students from grade 3-12 Information literacy so they can do their own fact checking, make them suspicious of what they read on the internet and have the tools to easily vet a source. But you know, no money. Plus no one listens to librarians. They're just "extra" teachers that don't really "do" anything but check books in and out of the library. Hey, we can get an hourly clerk to do that.

    People thought that with the advent of the internet no one would need books, libraries or librarians any more. That it was an obsolete profession.

    The internet is like trying to get a sip of water from a firehose.

    Librarians are the ones that are trained to turn that water down to a trickle, the exact trickle you're looking for. Clean, pure water, not polluted muddy crap.

    The average person doesn't know how to fact check. The sad truth is they don't want to. It's not a matter of lazy or stupid, although those are contributing factors. They only want facts that support their pre-conceived opinions.

    Yes, these fake news asshats certainly added their crap to the perfect shitstorm of stupidity.

    But you have to start with a stupid shithead that is gullible enough to swallow any ludicrous piece of crap because they want it to be true. That's how you get those tin foil beanie wearers that think the Clintons have murdered dozens of people.

    It's the same people that dismiss or justify all of Drumpf's egregious acts. He never should have been an electable candidate in the first place with his three wives and acts of adultery. The pussygrabbing should have taken him out. But none of it had any effect.

    Jimmy Kimmel did a bit with both Drumpf and Clinton supporters. Pitched as a survey they played outrageous audio LIES to each group and each side bent over backwards to justify or explain away what they heard and said they were still voting for their candidate. One of them was Trump wanting a paternity test to make sure Ivanka was his daughter because if she wasn't he didn't want to miss an opportunity to have sex with her. Eeeeww. And they said, yeah, that sounds reasonable.

    It's like this country is addicted to stupid and you have to hit rock bottom before they'll acknowledge that they need help and are willing to go through the 12 steps to become better informed.

    I'm not sure this country will survive the rock bottom we're going to get from the Drumpf administration.

  21. Anonymous3:21 AM

    Lets say that the fake headlines are just the tip of the damage the hackers caused. Not only elections but relationships and business was damaged from this organized crime against Americans and America.

  22. Anonymous3:24 AM

    America was bamboozled while sleeping by a Trojan trumpster and a clan of con ways.

  23. Anonymous3:40 AM

    Yep. sinore' rump is like the big giant smelly fart in the room that nobody wants to talk about.

  24. Anonymous4:03 AM

    Rumpy news meeting. No he wasnt crazy getting crazy at beginning of meeting. Kellyann trying to say no. Ha! Thats why there should be press.

  25. Anonymous5:42 AM

    I have an acquaintance on FaceBook whom I've known for about 2 1/2 years; rabid right-winger who posts up to 8 news stories a day from sources such as gateway pundit and WND. Every once in a while I'll debunk one of the posts by pointing out how easy it was to debunk the post. She always thanks me for sussing it out and then removes the post. I've given her several 'primers' on how to fact check and admonished her that spreading unsourced and erroneous info contributes to the discord we are experiencing today. Her followers just eat this stuff up. They look for it, post it, share it, revel in their anger and disgust but then don't seem particularly upset when proven wrong. I could spend 24 hours a day debunking her posts and she'd still spread the crap.


  26. Anonymous8:06 AM

    Lies have been started and spread about Hillary Clinton since she was a young woman. It just moves a lot faster now so more dumb people can be bamboozled quicker. Enough were steered in the wrong direction to give us Trump and the GOP for the next four years.


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