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.
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.