back to article Facebook Fake News won it for Trump? That's a Zombie theory

Facts all come with points of view Facts don't do what I want them to Talking Heads The internet is filled with things that aren’t true, the world discovered this week. Gosh. Who would have thought it? The propagation of bogus “news” through social networks is the latest "blame anyone except us" theory to account for the …

  1. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Does democracy work if people based their vote on lies^Wpost-facts?

    There was a post-fact presidential candidate who changed his mind on anything and everything depending on which day it was (sometimes even which part of the speech he was) and post-fact sources supported him. Well, I guess we're going to find out.

    Meanwhile, 4-chan is flagellating itself. Not so funny now, eh, 4-chan?

    Back in Rightpondia, a week or so ago, one politician (I forget the name, forgive me) said that they were bothered because the three High Court judges that blocked the referendum result, as if it wasn't beholden to politicians to follow the law when making referendum promises or indeed have a plan which backs up a referendum promise. The judges didn't even block it, they just said that in Rightpondia, the Rightpondian Parliament must vote on matters which affect domestic law.

    The next day, the dying mainstream media filled their front pages with bile which had nothing to do with the legal argument and everything to do with monkeys flinging shit at something they don't like.

    Post-fact and post-logic never struck me as good ways to run things.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Does democracy work if people based their vote on lies^Wpost-facts?

      Dan 55,

      Your comment on the UK court decision on Brexit actually illustrates both points. Sure there was a lot of rage out there, and some pretty unpleasant comments on the judges.

      On the other hand, there's a context to that.

      Quite a few people in the media, and even a few politicians who ought to know better, had spent the preceeding months saying how the people who voted to leave the EU were too stupid to make that decision - and so Parliament should override the referendum result. So obviously a ruling (on a completely contestable constitutional point) to give power to Parliament under those circumstances got a few people over-excited. I guess this is a symptom of a breakdown of trust.

      We are in a bit of a constitutional tizzy. Most MPs supporter remain. Our constitutional position is clear that referenda are advisory, Parliament is sovereign - and no future Parliament can be bound by the decisions of a previous one. The government has the legal right to negotiate treaties, but only Parliament can legislate. So at the moment we're having lots of fun trying to work out who does what,when. All interacting with the fact that the electorate are almost split down the middle, and whatever we decide isn't entirely in our own hands anyway, as the rest of the EU get a large say on our future relationship.

      My solution is that everyone calm down, and get a sense of proportion. The elite who lost realise that a lot of this is the result of their own actions, and maybe they ought to listen a bit more, and not just talk to each other. It would also really help if they stop calling everyone who disagrees with them stupid. But on the other hand, the insurgents could also do with calming the fuck down. Stop calling everyone who opposes them traitors (or evil or whatever) and perhaps have a nice cup of tea and a piece of cake.

      Perhaps though it's just because I've just completed my post lunch cuppa and piece of cake that I'm feeling so generous. Maybe the rage will kick in again, once I've talked to a few more customers this afternoon...

      1. John H Woods Silver badge

        Re: Does democracy work if people based their vote on lies^Wpost-facts?

        Absolutely agree with all of that apart from one slight niggle ... "the elite who lost" suggests that it was not an elite who won.

        1. Mystic Megabyte

          Re: Does democracy work if people based their vote on lies^Wpost-facts?@JohnHWoods

          I very nearly posted the same as you but then realised that in my local pub *all* the leavers have racist opinions. Sad but true, I am at a loss to feel happy about any part of this meltdown of society :(

          1. TheFinn

            Re: Does democracy work if people based their vote on lies^Wpost-facts?@JohnHWoods

            I concur. It may seem a glib explanation, but it doesn't make it any less true that xenophobia was a large factor in how people voted - look how many St George's have gone up on honest-to-god flagpoles at the end of people's gardens. Racism reimagined as politics.

            If you aren't happy with your lot, or that of your children, there's one way to change it, and it's the same one as it's always been - EDUCATION. Educate yourself better.

            Denigrating foreigners is easier, though, and is more compatible with getting pissed, innit?

            1. mythicalduck

              @TheFinn Re: Does democracy work if people based their vote on lies^Wpost-facts?

              I concur. It may seem a glib explanation, but it doesn't make it any less true that xenophobia was a large factor in how people voted - look how many St George's have gone up on honest-to-god flagpoles at the end of people's gardens. Racism reimagined as politics

              I saw an article about a jersey being sold on Amazon saying "Were #1" referring to britain, and how it can't spell "We're" (Ironically, the article also missed an apostrophe in one of their words), and whilst the article was painting it out to be some "xenophobic" statment, I found it a little sad that we, as Brits, don't seem to be allowed any sort of national pride without being condemed as racist.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              look how many St George's have gone up on honest-to-god flagpoles at the end of people's gardens

              Surely St George's cross flags are celebrating foreigners? Well celebrating one foreigner, at least.

          2. WatAWorld

            *all* the leavers have racist opinions ?

            Pretty much every human on the planet has racist opinions of some kind or another.

            The thing is we overlook racist opinions we agree with on the basis of 'facts' and 'statistics'.

            Like that today. Like that in the 1930s. Like that during the crusades. Like that in the iron age. Probably like that in the stone age too. People overlook their own racist bigotry because they see it as factually and statistically valid.

            The question is what actions they take based on them? Most regular people aren't involved in hiring or selecting who goes to which school. Racism is more dangerous when educated people and people with power engage in it. And so many people with BAs (and in the UK, PPEs) are treated as if they are educated in knowledge.

            Education in promulgating establishment and counter establishment dogma and myth is not education in knowledge.

            I'm using the international English definition of race, not the Merriam-Webster definition of skin color. Taking skin color as race has been widely and totally discredited by science, since skin color varies randomly too much.

        2. HAL-9000

          Re: Does democracy work if people based their vote on lies^Wpost-facts?

          ' Have to agree with that, same's true on the other side of the pond. Finally the only winners will be fat cats fuelled by fat tax cuts.

      2. WatAWorld

        And you've got a panel of supposed 'disinterested and impartial' judges who maybe

        And you've got a panel of supposed 'disinterested and impartial' judges who maybe aren't.

        It is pretty hard to be disinterested on an issue where you think the value of your investments and landholdings will be greatly affected by the decision, let alone the investments and landholdings of all your family members and friends.

        The number of junior UK judges who'd be impoverished enough to meet the disinterested and impartial bar on the issue would be zero, let alone UK Supreme Court judges who have a lifetime of possessions and friendships.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: And you've got a panel of supposed 'disinterested and impartial' judges who maybe

          "And you've got a panel of supposed 'disinterested and impartial' judges who maybe aren't." There is no evidence at all that they were not as impartial and disinterested as anyone can be.

          The most basic principle of British constituitional law is the sovereignty of parliment. when entering the EU was the result of acts of parliment and when the act enabling referendum passed by parliment explicitly said that the referendum was advisory it is very hard to see how any other legal outcome was possible. The governments appeal is for political reasons, perhaps delay, rather than any expectation the result will be different. The only decision which would have merited criticism was one that undermined democracy and the rule of law by saying parliment did not need to be involved even then it should not have been in the terms that were used.

          Criticism of judges as traitors for making judgements thare are disliked and groundless accusations of judicial bias undermine the rule of law. If they become commonplace it is dangerous.

    2. asdf

      Re: Does democracy work if people based their vote on lies^Wpost-facts?

      I humbly submit perhaps the problem is that anyone that gets their news exclusively from Facebook shouldn't have the franchise in the first place as Heinlein would say. Its just too bad it would take some pretty severe government interference in Facebook and other companies businesses to get said information. Not that the US government isn't doing so already but it would tip their hand.

  2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    'The answer, apparently, is that to stop people clicking on crazy stuff, you take the crazy stuff away from people. You force Facebook to stop carrying anything crazy in a section labelled "News"... people carry on sharing the crazy stuff anyway"'

    Maybe it's the people who are crazy. After all the "stuff" doesn't originate itself.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Maybe it's the people who are crazy"

      Some are. But 61 million?

      Or maybe Hillary was a crap candidate, and both parties are massively out of touch.

      1. Pompous Git Silver badge

        "Maybe it's the people who are crazy"

        Some are. But 61 million?

        You never heard about Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds? Still worth a read...

        1. asdf

          tl;dr version

          >Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds?

          What a pompous way to say none of us are as dumb as all of us.

          1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            Re: tl;dr version

            What a pompous way to say none of us are as dumb as all of us.

            To find the IQ of a crowd, work out the lowest IQ present and divide it by the number of people in the crowd.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          You never heard about

          and you forgot to mention The Mass Psychology of Fascism, possibly more relevant, yes?

          AC for fear of provoking DV's from AO trolls

          1. Pompous Git Silver badge

            Re: You never heard about

            AC for fear of provoking DV's from AO trolls
            Devota Virgines from Adults Only? The mind boggles...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        >Or maybe Hillary was a crap candidate,

        Trump is a giant sick joke loudly formally announcing the decline of US influence to the world but have to admit Hillary did remind me of the bad woman governor in the movie Black Sheep. Especially in the movie when she replies to a very uncomfortable question about her ethics by saying but look my opponent's brother is a big dumb idiot (or simply Chris Farley).

      3. Version 1.0 Silver badge

        > "Maybe it's the people who are crazy"

        Yes, that's true, it's just that normally there are slightly more sane people voting than crazy people. This year they stayed home.

      4. Mark 85

        Or maybe Hillary was a crap candidate both candidates were crap, and both parties are massively out of touch.

        FTFY as I saw pure, unadulterated BS coming forth as news from both sides.

      5. TheDillinquent

        Bernie would have trounced Trump but sadly the Democrats were too busy pushing the Clinton agenda.

    2. Mage Silver badge
      Big Brother

      "you take the crazy stuff away from people."

      That logically means closing Facebook, Twitter, most of Murdoch controlled news, Buzzfeed etc ...

      Maybe even state censorship Russia / NK / China style. Careful what you wish for.

    3. BillG

      Some people would rather visit a dentist without anaesthetic, than be seen to be agree on a point made by somebody that they would usually disagree with.

      Excellent point.

    4. Mark 85

      This has been going on a lot longer than the recent election. Prior elections we got our fake news from "mailing lists" by random people thinking we 'gave a crap" about some made up BS. Then Twitter came along and these people migrated there and the media started picking up on some of this. One of the first that recall making the major news was "Obama is changing the oath given by the military to swear "allegiance to the President" instead of "defending the Constitution". Things have gone downhill from there.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Selected reading from outside of the echo chamber

        5 instances where fake news caused real tragedies

        The professor who generated the "hit list" of fake news sites.

        Facebook, Twitter and Google are highly concerned by these new media wars. "Fake news sources" correctly predicted the US election results and the mood of the country. It was completely unfair since they weren't burdened with an agenda.

        Their secret? Instead of using flawed polling methods and fabricating support for a pre-selected candidate, they reported objective facts:

        Tens of thousands or people attending Trump rallies on a daily basis.

        That the full broadcasts of Trump speeches (instead of the inflammatory sound bites) were actually quite inspiring.

        Almost no one was attending HRC's sporadic rallies.

        Well founded concerns about HRC's health and dubious financing practices.

        The never-ending questions about her trustworthiness as a candidate and politician

        Documented video evidence of DNC-paid troublemakers attacking Trump supporters and disrupting his rallies.

        The scandals surrounding top-level DNC operators, how they do business and what they thought of their support base. All of which resulted in "real" resignations and dismissals.

        The electorate then gradually turned off the evening news, discussed politics with their friends, and continued to read more "fake news" and real wikileaks.

        To anyone with a working brain the outcome was obvious. People went out and voted for Trump.

        All the while thinking:

        Why is the MSM lying to us?

        Why do they hate us so much?

        Do they think we are stupid?

        Now these same viewers are watching paid trouble-makers protest the election results by rioting in the streets.

        Many skeptics (like me) insisted on cross-checking these "fake news sites" against MSM sources.

        After clearing away the obviously barmy stuff, it soon became clear just how extensive, concerted, biased and distorted MSM election reporting actually was. The fake news sites also reported such anomalies. Thereby creating a self-perpetuating truth to reality loop.

        As Oscar Wilde once said: "The truth is never pure and rarely simple".

        AND TO MAKE IT EVEN WORSE, the "fake" news sites are now stealing the advertising clicks bought and paid for by these discredited MSM sites' advertisers. Oh, the irony........

        All to the benefit of the fake news sites that permitted millions of people to see the actual Trump instead of the bogeyman caricature fabricated by the Democratic propaganda machine.

        As Brexit and the Trump election victory now prove, both the educated and less-educated sheeple are waking up. Some are even becoming annoyed and vocal.

        But most are quietly waiting for January 21st.

        And yet, the scorned establishment continues to tell people what they should and shouldn't read.

        Meanwhile, in the UK, they will soon be recording everything you read online (thanks to the newly passed Snoopers charter 2). I guess that way if the UK electorate strays too far off the reservation, it can be gently coaxed back by "proper" journalism (or water cannons).

        Good luck with that.

        As an objective observer, I think the dumbing-down process has failed completely or only worked on certain political elites and their mind-controlled followers.

        IMHO, I don't see this ending well for the mainstream media outlets until they join the fringe and begin reporting real facts and news again.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    In the past, lies were more subtle - Propaganda was a version of the truth, spun by politicians to influence and coerce a population.

    Now politics is just bare-faced lies even in the overwhelming evidence of facts.

    The US and UK have created a population that is:

    - kept busy by being overworked, underpaid and overtaxed

    - kept scared with horror stories of terrorists and immigration

    - poorly educated, taught by rote instead of being taught critical thinking

    - fed on a constant diet of digital distractions

    - encouraging confirmation bias for their ill-informed opinions

    Then current population are now easy to manage with lies.

    1. JeffyPoooh

      Re: Post-truth -> Browser Extension 'Fake News' filter

      Possible partial solution...

      Using the same design concepts as browser extension Ad Blockers, it would seem to be very straightforward to implement a scheme where information originating from Fake News sources would either be blocked, or highlighted and the links redirected to a debunking page.

      Inevitably, any crowd sourced vote scheme to categorize 'fake' news would be hijacked by bots. So it'll need reliable human oversight (Wiki style).

      ...Thus it'll fragment into Left and Right echo chambers.

      Bah, forget it. It's hopeless...

      Move to Canada instead. More moderate politics and 'free' health care.

      1. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge

        Re: Post-truth -> Browser Extension 'Fake News' filter

        The issue isn't blocking stories from domains like The issue is advertisements.

        For example, if I log into Farcebook, the right edge of my browser shows two ads both with misleading verbiage, one that implies that Clint Eastwood is dead, and another that implies a football player "needs prayers". Both are fake news clickbait generated by Farcebook itself.

        But Andrew is right - the pageview data does not support the idea that appreciable numbers of people ever see this crap.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Post-truth -> Browser Extension 'Fake News' filter

        >Move to Canada instead.

        3800 hours of sunshine a year where I am at (plus no need for a winter jacket). Not going to find anywhere close to that in Canada.

        1. find users who cut cat tail

          Re: Post-truth -> Browser Extension 'Fake News' filter

          > 3800 hours of sunshine a year where I am at

          That would probably kill me in less than a year. I would even opt for 3800 hours of rain and snow rather than that. The so-called bad weather can be dealt with using reasonably protective functional clothing and then it can be quite enjoyable. Sunshine and heat on the other hand, are a terrible pervasive things you cannot really hide from.

      4. JeffyPoooh

        Re: Post-truth -> Browser Extension 'Fake News' filter

        DING DING DING...

        BBC Fake news detector plug-in developed:

        Took only "an hour" to create. LOL...

    2. Hollerithevo

      Re: Post-truth

      I agree with everything but the 'overtaxed'. I am a top-rate UK tax payer and I think the level is fair. As my family has had to draw heavily on State services recently (health care), I figure I have paid the right level so that I and those less fortunate than I can be sure loved ones get the medical care they need when they need it.

      I would, though, like the Govt to stop wasting billions on failed IT projects. That does hurt.

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: Post-truth

        I agree with everything but the 'overtaxed'. I am a top-rate UK tax payer

        It's not you that's overtaxed. It's those that have to pay the same council tax, food, fuel and energy bills as you but earn half your take-home pay.

        If you're a top-rate tax payer, unless you only just fit into that tax bracket, you're more likely to be undertaxed...

    3. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: Post-truth

      That description of the population hasn't really changed in centuries, though. OK, maybe tax wasn't something that bothered ordinary folks until the "temporary" introduction of income tax to pay for the Napoleonic wars, but the rest aren't new.

      Every government is accused of screwing up the education system, yet 200 years ago fewer people were literate and numerate. Confirmation bias has always been around, but in the past it just meant that all your mates in the village pub agreed with you that the landowner was a bastard.

      Terorism wasn't a thing, but scare stories about immigration have been around forever, it's just that the "immigrants" were the clan from the next village who ate babies and would steal your daughters.

      If anything, the big difference today is that we all have a bigger view. News from outside our town or village no longer travels at the speed of a horse, we're swamped by it every minute of the day, and we're made to feel that it's important. The apparent scope of the "problems" has expanded.

      Politics today is just as much lies as it ever was, I don't really think things were more subtle in the past. There was nothing subtle about hellfire preachers forecasting eternal damnation for anyone who criticised the church or the King.

      If anything, past control of ordinary folks was based more on fear; transportation or hanging for petty theft, maiming for poaching, etc. No need for subtlety or lies when you could just whack a peasant's hand off for scratching his arse in front of you.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Post-truth

      “So long as they (the Proles) continued to work and breed, their other activities were without importance. Left to themselves, like cattle turned loose upon the plains of Argentina, they had reverted to a style of life that appeared to be natural to them, a sort of ancestral pattern...Heavy physical work, the care of home and children, petty quarrels with neighbors, films, football, beer and above all, gambling filled up the horizon of their minds. To keep them in control was not difficult.” - George Orwell, 1984

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: Post-truth

        And we all know how 1984 ends, don't we? Well, those of us who've read it in its entirety, which I'm not convinced is a large fraction of those who quote it.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Post-truth


      Yeah what a wonderful world the Boomers have left for us. Now their King Lizard is going to bring the pain. I would rather obey the hypnotoad at this point.

    6. veti Silver badge

      Re: Post-truth

      So let's have a look at your facts, shall we? The US and UK populations are:

      "- kept busy by being overworked, underpaid and overtaxed".

      Overworked? In both countries, the total hours worked are trending down.

      Underpaid? There's a lot to be said about this, but one interesting factoid is that since approximately 2009 (i.e. the end of the global financial crash, and coincidentally the beginning of the Obama presidency), the decline of the middle class in both countries has pretty much stopped.

      Overtaxed? In 1950, the UK's basic rate of income tax was 45%. Now it's 20%, and the trend has been pretty steadily down all that time. In the US the picture is slightly different, but again tax rates have trended downward for most.

      "- kept scared with horror stories of terrorists and immigration" - I'm guessing you don't remember the 1970s, on both fronts.

      "- poorly educated, taught by rote instead of being taught critical thinking" - again, there's an awful lot to be said about this (and an awful lot has been said about it, pretty much every year since the 1970s), but here I'd like to make a meta-point: your entire comment boils down to "we need better people". If we had better people, we wouldn't be having this debate.

      Your last two points I might be prepared to concede, but only if you post some links to back them up so that I know what, specifically, I'm conceding.

      "Then current population are now easy to manage with lies" - umm, syntax aside, what specifically are you claiming is different now as opposed to 40 years ago?

      Your post is itself an excellent example of post-truth politics: it panders to existing prejudices and bias, without being specific about its own meaning, hints at a problem that is inherently unsolvable, and therefore - what? "There are no facts, trust nothing"?


    7. salamamba too

      Re: Post-truth

      I was taught critical thinking, but then again I went to a grammar school. Is this why so many politicians hate grammar schools?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Post-truth

        If you learnt critical thinking in grammar school, great. But as only about 25% of students went top grammar schools in the 1960s, that leaves 75% of students who probably weren't thought 'worthy' of teaching critical thinking to.

        I'll support grammar schools wholeheartedly the day it's enshrined in law that they only receive say 75% of the funding per capita as schools teaching children with greater need.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Amen to that... The MSM is Facebook / Twitter / Google's bitch:

    ....."Social responsibility doesn’t come easily to the internet platforms like Facebook, who ensure they take as little as possible. Like Google News, Facebook wants the benefits that accrue from being a publisher... but none of the costly and tedious drawbacks, like fact-checking, liabilities, or exercising editorial judgement over the placement of material. Sometimes just being honest seems to be excruciatingly painful for The Social Network.

    ....."Professional media outlets stand much to gain from disengaging with social networks completely, and starting their own distribution networks. More than ever, a clickbait world (that is itself riddled with ad fraud), they need new economic models, so their reliance on Facebook falls to zero."

    1. td97402

      Re: Amen to that... The MSM is Facebook / Twitter / Google's bitch:

      AC writes:

      "Like Google News, Facebook wants the benefits that accrue from being a publisher... but none of the costly and tedious drawbacks, like fact-checking, liabilities, or exercising editorial judgement over the placement of material."

      I'll add to that by saying, they also don't want to simply pay the salaries of human beings who might keep a lid on things. All these "disruptive" tech companies are basically just cheap bastards.

  5. Teddy the Bear

    Utterly floored that American journalists take a vow of objectivity! I've seen Fox news, and that stuff is a loooooooooooooong way from Objective!

    Or is it only print journalists that take this vow?

    1. cybersaur

      This is fake news

      American journalists do NOT take a vow of objectivity. Most of them have no idea what that even means.

    2. Nunyabiznes


      Did you not see the cheerleading from NYT, et al? If you are going to paint Fox as biased (and it is) then be honest and get a big sprayer and paint all of them.

      The anointing of Hillary by the MSM (- Fox obviously) over Bernie in the primaries and then Trump in the election directly led to a revolt by the plebes against them. It is at least partially the fault of the MSM and the echo chamber thinking of the other "liberal elites" that put Trump over the top.

      FB and other social media "fake news" is a direct, albeit amplified, reflection of traditional news and their failure to remain objective. Some of the stuff printed about Trump in the traditional media was so overblown as to be complete fabrication. Very little was not spun into the worst possible light, and at no time did they give credit where it was due in his charitable contributions and past political stances.

      1. Maty

        Re: Objectivity

        As a matter of interest, during the US election the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) made its preference so obvious that it was widely referred to as the 'Clinton Broadcasting corporation'.

        1. lglethal Silver badge

          Re: Objectivity

          They do take a vow of objectivity i swear - They vow to uphold the objectives of whichever media organisation is paying them!

        2. Matt Bryant Silver badge

          Re: Maty Re: Objectivity

          "As a matter of interest, during the US election the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) made its preference so obvious that it was widely referred to as the 'Clinton Broadcasting corporation'." The BBC News website warped into the Bolsheviks Broadcasting for Clinton, and is still mainstreaming as many anti-Trump stories as they can. Some of the Beeb's antipathy may stem from their biased support for AGW and Trump's supposed "anti-environment" stance, the rest seems to be just the mask slipping.

    3. Captain DaFt

      "I've seen Fox news, and that stuff is a loooooooooooooong way from Objective!"

      You do know that Fox News sued for, and won the right to lie and distort news, didn't you?


      "During their appeal, FOX asserted that there are no written rules against distorting news in the media. They argued that, under the First Amendment, broadcasters have the right to lie or deliberately distort news reports on public airwaves. Fox attorneys did not dispute Akre’s claim that they pressured her to broadcast a false story, they simply maintained that it was their right to do so. After the appeal verdict WTVT general manager Bob Linger commented, “It’s vindication for WTVT, and we’re very pleased… It’s the case we’ve been making for two years. She never had a legal claim.”"

      From here:

    4. veti Silver badge

      "Objective" journalism means, very simply, that the journalists tell you who told them what they're telling you. (Or if a source wishes to be anonymous, they tell you that, and also preferably why they're respecting that wish.)

      That's it, really. There's no requirement to "balance" anything. All it's designed to do is maintain a viable "web" of reputation, so that each source can be correctly identified with its own claims.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yet oddly enough, Fox is probably the least slanted news....except to the die hard (US Defined) liberals. CNN, MSNBC, all utterly in the tank for Clinton and didn't even pretend to be impartial.

      Funny how bias intrudes into everyday observations. As Glenn Reynolds said, think of the majority of the US Print media as "Democratic operatives with bylines", and you won't be far wrong.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Fox - least slanted?

        "Yet oddly enough, Fox is probably the least slanted news....except to the die hard (US Defined) liberals"

        I did not watch any US news during the campaign so cannot comment on that. I was in the US in the run up to the second gulf war and all of the US media was poor but Fox news was naked propganda.One thing that stuck in my mind was a straight faced article on how France was an endemically anti-semetic racist country and that was the reason they wanted a second UN resolution before supporting a war. This was reported as a fact! I found the demonisation of a democratic ally quite frightening and I could imagine it happening to the UK if we happened to disagree (unlikely I know).

      2. Tomato42

        @AC "Fox is probably the least slanted news."

        You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Fakes news is as American as Mom and Apple Pie

          Prepare to be both disgusted and amused in equal doses.

          1. Pompous Git Silver badge

            Re: Fakes news is as American as Mom and Apple Pie

            the BBC’s world affairs editor John Simpson remarked, “A country that does not have a John Pilger in its journalism is a very feeble place indeed”
            'nuf sed...

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You can't handle the truth ...

    er, no, you don't want the truth. As sales of the Daily Mail show.

    A few years ago, I was listening to a radio phone in, about the EU, and every single moronic cretin was allowed to parrot the "human rights" grumble.

    As I was at home, I called in, and explained to researcher who took my call what it was about.

    "We can't correct the callers" she said "we'll get complaints about bias"

    "Er, stating facts is bias ?" I asked.

    "It is with the people who call us." she said.

    BBC Local radio. 'nuff said.

  7. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    Re: "Disneyland turbo-fascism"

    Reminded me of this.

  8. Ryan.T.Student

    Fake news is not the problem. The filter bubble/echo chamber is.

  9. cambsukguy

    "He persuaded a risk-averse middle class that he'd do a less bad job than the other candidates"

    This is laughable.

    Plainly, statements made by Trump do not persuade risk-averse people that he is a safe pair of hands, to paraphrase:

    "Global warming is a scam by the Chinese government to damage Western economies"

    "Yeah, I just grab 'em by the pussy"

    Edit: had to add "ISIS was started by Obama and Clinton", Jesus Fucking Christ, the level of gall and the stupidity of the people believing that, or even supporting someone who says that.

    The list is almost endless and a parade of unedifying garbage, almost all False (except the Pussy stuff, he knows his pussy stuff).

    Politico rated his completely truthful statements at less than 5%, with almost 70% false or partly false.

    If he engendered trust with those statements, that says more about False News and the general intelligence of voters rather than truth itself.

    The risk-averse view would be to vote for Hillary Clinton, who has been doing the job for a long time.

    The real reasons (apart from more lying and Hatchet Jobs against Mrs Clinton) are more to do with sections of the vote NOT going to her. Trump got about the same overall vote as Romney last time but she got five Million fewer votes than Obama last time. The loss of lots of African American votes, the 'young' and so on.

    It is a sad fact that she lost rather than he won.

    Although, it has to be said, the small effect caused by Fake News, avid media coverage of his outrages (giving him free publicity - of which, apparently, there is no bad kind) would have been enough to give him the slim margin in the required states.

    All in all shameful, Brexit-like shenanigans with a post-vote realisation of the terrible mistake that has been made.

    Both sides of the pond will see the hit as time goes on, we will get by probably, but we will be less cohesive, more divided and poorer (100 Billion in our case), of that I remain sure, along with the Chancellor it seems.

    1. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

      Oh, not again....

      ... another polemic on "shenanigans with a post-vote realisation of the terrible mistake that has been made".

      Just suck it up, and go with the vote of the people.

      No side on the HRC/Trump election or the Brexit referendum told much truth. The difference perhaps was that the "nice" side told more subtle and carefully-researched lies.

      1. cambsukguy

        Re: Oh, not again....

        > No side on the HRC/Trump election or the Brexit referendum told much truth. The difference perhaps was that the "nice" side told more subtle and carefully-researched lies

        And you think that the candidates were not fact checked by legitimate sources?

        The previously mentioned politico also checked HRCs statements.

        As you say, both sides told porkies. But one side told many, many more outright lies and many, many more untruths and many, many more distortions.

        Statements like "Obama is a Muslim" or "Obama was not born in the USA" with "I ran an email server to avoid carrying two phones" doesn't bear comparison really.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Oh, not again....

          Or statements like "If you like your Doctor, you can keep your Doctor" ? Or "I solemnly swear that I have released all relevant Emails from my time as Secretary of State...." or "Oh, I thought the "C" on the pages just meant that there was a Part A and B before that I had missed...."

          You're right that one side told more "porkies", and that was Clinton and the MSM who deliberately distorted what the other side was saying. Like the widely seen and believed statement of Trump's that he would deport all Muslims...never said that did he ?

      2. MD Rackham

        Re: Oh, not again....

        If we went "with the vote of the people" we'd be discussing President-elect Hillary Clinton.

    2. David Webb

      I think the reason that Trump won is because the general population are getting angry at the career politicians and their ways.

      Bush Snr. Iraq War Battlefield 1

      Bill Clinton. Shagging the intern, impeachment, horrible wife

      Bush Jnr. Iraq War Battlefield 2, 9/11, torture, renditions etc.

      Obama. will probably be remembered as rather ineffectual, always at loggerheads with congress or whatever with their threats of shutting down the .gov by not putting through budgets or whatever it was, plus more wars.

      Trump offered something different, sure he offered hate filled bullshit but that's different to the usual stuff "the powers that be" offer, which is more of the same of the last person in power. Expect more of the same to happen in Europe with the right getting plenty of votes from normal people who are scared out of their minds about what is happening in the world, with the liberal/left only offering more of the same as we already have.

      1. Pen-y-gors

        @David Webb

        "with the liberal/left only offering more of the same as we already have."

        Which, to be fair, isn't actually too bad for most people. As far as Europe is concerned, most of us live in reasonable conditions, with enough to eat, schools for our kids, safety nets in case of economic trouble, good health provision and, on the whole, no risk of someone dropping a howitzer shell on your home.

        I'm not sure I believe the promises of the 'other side' about the golden future ahead of us all in a semi-fascist state run by head-cases.

        And thinking of what presidents are remembered for, let's just hope there are people still around to remember Trump. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that on the day he asks for the nuclear codes the guy with the football will look inside and say "Oooh, my bad. Wrong football. Looks like I left the real one on my dressing table."

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          The liberal/left is the beneficiary of peace in Europe, not the cause.

          1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

            The liberal/left is the beneficiary of peace in Europe, not the cause.

            Identify the author of the following quote, then go and hide back under your post-truth rock...

            “I am an English Liberal. I hate the Tory Party, their men, their words and their methods.”

            1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

              Identify the author of the following quote, then go and hide back under your post-truth rock...

              Churchill was a liberal in his early life, but by no means a lefty. He was very much in favour of free enterpise and individual liberty.

              1. Lars Silver badge

                @ Phil O'Sophical

                You are mixed up with the far left and the left. The "left" we have in Europe is "very much in favour of free enterprise and individual liberty". I think you know that too very well. We have a right arm and a left arm because we have two arms. If we had three then perhaps we would have a middle arm too. People who live in a "two party" system are more mixed up and fooled by this left and right and have problems looking straight and use common sense.

                Remember when Microsoft called Linux "communist", they knew some Americans would go for it, in Europe shit like that was ridiculed.

                And there is this article about the PowerShell, power or not, it's not because of the name.

                And what about Warren Buffett in this interview, is it left right or center or just common sense.


                1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

                  You are mixed up with the far left and the left. The "left" we have in Europe is "very much in favour of free enterprise and individual liberty".

                  No, I don't think I'm mixed up, not least because the definitions of left and far-left vary across Europe. What the UK considers as "left", i.e. the Labour party, is much closer to what the French consider to be centre-right, for example. Corbyn & co are heading for "far left" by UK standards, but much of Europe would not consider them to be so.

                  The European "left" may think it's in favour of "free enterprise and individual liberty", but in UK terms it is still a bastion of intolerable state intervention and paternalistic control, and is the cause of the economic problems in so much of the Euro zone.. Without wanting to start another Brexit flamewar, I do think this is one of the fundamental problems. Much of the EU political class that considers itself centrist and moderate simply doesn't understand why the British consider them unacceptably left-wing, and want nothing to do with them.

                  People who live in a "two party" system are more mixed up and fooled by this left and right and have problems looking straight and use common sense.

                  Please don't assume that people who don't think like you have "problems looking straight and use common sense", it's exactly that arrogant and condescending attitude that, to a Briton, typifies the "Daddy knows best" attitude that is so repellent about European politicians, especially those on the left.

            2. Pompous Git Silver badge

              I am an English Liberal...

              Winnie was a Liberal, not a liberal.

          2. John H Woods Silver badge

            "The liberal/left is the beneficiary of peace in Europe, not the cause." -- Big John

            Sure, there could have been peace in Europe without liberal opposition to Hitler: as described by Robert Harris in Fatherland.

            1. cambsukguy

              A lot of people in high places in Britain were quite tempted by the idea of siding with Hitler, all that Jew hating was very popular.

              Winston was prescient in that he saw the armament build-up for what it was, a precursor to war.

              We would have bought time for a short while with appeasement (and did, a few weeks).

              It was the larger group of 'right-minded' people that swayed the government, along with the dawning realisation that Hitler would not be appeased anyway.

              Stalin fell for it, only to be at war a short time later.

              Europe has created one of, if not the, finest places to live on the planet. Millions of people want to come here and people in Europe should thank their lucky stars they live in such a great place - I know I do.

              Even the UK, still more 'European' than American, for now.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @David Webb

        The choice for the US public was old bullshit versus Hot New Bullshit.

    3. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      post-vote realisation of the terrible mistake that has been made.

      Funny thing is, just like Brexit, the only people who think that "a mistake has been made" are the ones who didn't pick the winning side. Pitching it as "oh noes, now we all realise our mistake" is just Propaganda 101.

      I'm not saying that I'm happy with the result, I think the Democrats screwed up big time by choosing such an unappealing candidate, but I'm pretty sure that if you reran the election tomorrow you would get much the same outcome.

    4. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Sure Trump is a lying scumbag. But how many people believed the lies? Given he was so artless about telling them, and changed them so often.

      One thing I blame is the corrosive habit of people saying that all politicians are liars. It's mostly not true, but it requires some fact-checking and effort. And most people aren't interested enough in politics to investigate.

      When you've convinced yourself, and everyone else, that all politicians are evil liars who are only in it for themselves - then why not vote for Trump? He's just another one of them. Whereas I'd argue he's in a completely different league, even though Clinton hasn't exactly got a stellar record.

      Its worse in the US - where there is a lot more corruption in politics. Just look at the money. At a UK General election all the major parties between them spend about £50m. The figure for the last US Presidential year, including all the other elections was over $3 billion.

      Labour have just raised about £5m by getting loads of people to join and have a leadership election. Unusual, but shows that UK politics just doensn't get involved in those kinds of insane sums of cash. Some races for a single senate seat spend more than an entire UK general election.

      I also blame the media for helping to build the perception that all politics is lies, but not helping much to stop it. I take on example from Gordon Brown - who was much more of a direct liar than most politicians of his generation. There was an embarrassing by-election in Scotland. Labour were going to lose. He (or his spokesman I don't remember) said in a press conference that he wouldn't be campaigning as there was a precedent in British politics that sitting Prime Ministers don't campaign in by-elections. This is a straight lie. For childish reasons of PR they didn't want to appear in a losing cause, or admit they were avoiding it. Rather than just say nothing, or waffle, they outright lied. I don't remember a single journalist calling them on it. I remember hearing a few reports of it in quizzical tones, but I don't remember one news reporter just straight saying, this is not true.

      It's much harder to correct people when they play with statistics, but if you let normal politicians get away with lying, and it works for them, they'll do it more. It's always happened of course, and always will, but journalists allowed spin doctors to bully them out of challenging lies - then we got more lies because they worked, then people decided it was easier to play the cynic and assume everyone lied, rather than realising it was unusual behaviour, checking and punishing those who did it. So that they'd stop.

      1. Mystic Megabyte


        Which is why we should prosecute those people who lie when campaigning. Boris, Nigel, I'm looking at you.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just say No.

    and stop feeding Zuck and the rest. Delete your accounts and get on with life without these sites.

    The bile that they publish and the hatred is just IMHO awful.

    People have taken their own lives after FB, Twitter etc commentards went after someone.

    Does a so called civilised society need this sort of thing? IMHO, the answer is no we don't.

    I think we managed a lot better before all this so called 'social media' thing came into being. I think we can do without it and still 'have a life'.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just say No.

      We don't need twitter, but facebook is actually useful. It's how I and almost all my friends coordinate our real life social lives ( through facebook Events ). The odd one who doesn't use facebook is a massive pain in the arse.

      Perhaps if we could disable posting on facebook and replace the 'news' section with a link to The Times.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Just say No.

        May I suggest you and your friends coordinate your real social life, socially?

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Just say No.

        "facebook is actually useful. It's how I and almost all my friends coordinate our real life social lives"

        That's just the network effect. If you'd settled on something else, say email and a mail-list, you could do exactly the same thing.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Just say No.

          You could, or a dedicated website or mobile app or something. But as Facebook is ubiquitous, it's useful.

          Email isn't as good - Facebook events let people say yes/no/maybe and post comments ( eg: I'll be there if I can find a babysitter ). It displays lists of who's coming, who's not, etc. Syncs to your calendar if you're going.

          4 people going to the pub is one thing, but arranging 20 people going to a sports match is another thing altogether.

          I don't know why my assertion that it's useful got me 16 downvotes.

    2. Preston Munchensonton

      Re: Just say No.

      I think we managed a lot better before all this so called 'social media' thing came into being. I think we can do without it and still 'have a life'.

      And while you're at it, get off my lawn!

    3. Arctic fox

      Re: Just say No.

      I agree and I do. Which is why I routinely refer to "FuckBook", "Shitter" and "SlapTwat" whenever I post on the issue of social media.

  11. TeeCee Gold badge

    Hear hear!

    Yet again, the issue is not "fake news" (or whatever ${scapegoat} is this week). It's the fact that the mainstream gobshites don't like the answer and now have to blame the question, or the way it was asked, or who asked it, or who it was asked of, or anything that was said about it or space aliens using mind-control lasers just about anything except themselves really....

    More popcorn please.

  12. Joe Werner Silver badge


    "Only a stubborn technology utopian can now argue that social networks, playgrounds for rage and virtue signalling, have elevated political discussion. Personally, I think they have been catastrophic for rational debate, hollowing out the middle ground."

    Yes. Oh, so much. Forget about the swarm intelligence, the democratization of everything through digital whatevers. Compromises, discussions, diplomacy, all these things are positively absent. Not only in social media, but also in article comments (m'kay, sort of social-media-ish, I guess). ElReg is mostly an exception - except when it comes to politics (only recently, please for the love of $DEITY, stop it), or OS choices with the overzealous Linux-evangelists, the fanbois, MS slavedroids (I'm used to that, usually ignore it, sometimes read it for entertainment).

    Lucky me: heading for the official drinking soon, need that. What a week.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This.

      I don't think social media is the only place for this.

      Today I read an article on the Graun which was a letter from a reader, basically "Dear Graun, my husband and the father of my child voted Brexit and likes Trump, should I leave him?".

      The responses below the line were generally in agreement.

      I say if we kill all the readers of the Graun*, the world will be a nicer place.

      * Not me, obviously - I read it for a laugh.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: This.

        The Guardian is going all "post truth" itself now.

        I'm actually struggling to find a decent news provider. May have to try out the Times again (after many years) or go back to the Economist. The Torygraph has sacked most of the good people so they can keep making the same profits, as ciruclation slowly drops. The BBC does some good stuff, but doesn't cover all the stuff I'm interested in.

        So anyway I've read about 3 or 4 articles since Brexit. They've all been press conferences or speeches by European politicians. Obviously UK news is covering Brexit comments. In each case this person has said basically nothing. They've said no single market access without free movement, no special treatment for the UK, we're going to negotiate with the UK and try to come to a reasonable agreeement. So they've basically said nothing new, and stuck to the script. No new info. The Telegraph headline has been surprise intervention from xxx who says EU will come to a reasonable agreement with the UK hooray for Brexit remoaners awful.

        Then I see the Guardian story which was so-and-so says no special treatment for UK we're all doomed Brexshit disaster etc.

        Both articles are bollocks. In fact I'd go further, both are lies. Partially quoting in an opinion piece to back up your point is dishonest, but understandable and opinion doesn't have to be unbiased. They're using it as evidence to "prove" what they already believe, it's opinion, it's fine.

        In a news piece, it's a deliberate lie. A proper news piece should say what they said, then if it's significant. In these cases, basically nothing was said but the already agreed line from their government.

        You can't call out Trump for the liar he is, if you're also a liar. At least not with credibility.

        Also you can't call for politics to be more civilised (and I'm looking at you specifially here Guardian) if your own merchandising department sell a T-Shirt saying "Tories - lower than vermin." I actually saw an advert for that (keywords oops!) on a Guardian opinion piece after the last election saying how we should try to understand why people vote Conservative, rather than demonise them.

        1. viscount

          Re: This.

          Private Eye is good for an alternative view, and (as you mention), the Economist, although between Trump and Brexit even that is now a bit of big whinging pile at the moment.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: This.

          I'd normally recommend The Times ( admittedly I did above ), but they've gone a bit mental post-brexit telling us that the sky will fall unless we change our minds ).

          Obviously it's not as mental as the Graun, but the Grauniad targets a lunatic niche on purpose.

          1. Chris Miller

            Re: This.

            The Guardian is just the Daily Mail with the dog whistle tuned to a different pitch.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: This.

              I'd argue you're almost right, but the Graun seems to have an air of legitimacy which makes it more dangerous than The Mail.

  13. JeffyPoooh

    Wait... Isn't Facebook getting a new CEO ???

    I read on Facebook, where I get all my news, that FB CEO Zuckerberg had sadly passed-on.

  14. Chris Miller

    It isn't the completely fake news that's the problem - everyone (well, 99% of everyone to be on the safe side) can see through stories such as "World War 2 bomber found on moon". But there was a recent one that Trump had narrowly beaten Clinton on the popular vote, which was nonsense, but took a bit of digging to be revealed as such - and most people won't bother.

    But I'm afraid the days of fact-checking by MSM journos have long gone, They just run stories from Twitter and Facebook like everyone else, driven by click maximisation (which, in many cases is how they're remunerated).

  15. Wibble

    All in the matrix...

    Can the army of Zukkerburg's followers tell the difference between true and false news? Do they care?

    It's like comparing people at McDonalds with people who know what good food is.

    It's a pity though, as Zukkerburg's drivel really screws democracy.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Voter apathy did it, moderate liberals couldn't face voting for Clinton, but I expect are enjoying being outraged. Much like moderate conservatives didn't want for Trump. Difference is there weren't enough "I'm with Her" sorts to make up for the millions of lost votes for Clinton versus the "That woman wants to get rid of our jobs, and what kind of country has a couple of million illegal immigrants?" I mean in the UK (and around the rest of Europe) people want rid of perfectly legal immigrants.

    Also couldn't possibly be the fault of the "Real" News providers, they were all busy goose stepping behind the Clinton wagon.

  17. Moosh

    At the risk of being negged to oblivion...

    Trump won because the mainstream media was openly colluding with the political elite to elect Hillary Clinton, and it was blindingly obvious to anyone other than the target audience - which is another blunder in itself; why target people you already know are going to vote the way you want? Why did they think that calling the people they wanted to convince uneducated, poor, redneck, misogynistic, racist assholes would help them?

    The entire world was telling Americans how to vote, and calling them names if they happened to disagree. Media sites were purposefully and knowingly over-sampling registered democrats in most every single poll they did, in a transparent attempt to paint Trump's odds as much worse than they actually were (as we saw on election night).

    I disagree with the notion that the rest of the world believes people are intelligent enough to notice bias. On the contrary, The Guardian, The Independent, hell, even The Financial Times are all incredibly biased while advertising themselves as objective. I quite honestly stopped purchasing the FT due to the flagrant biases and attempts to influence opinion both prior to Brexit and the US elections. I do not mind criticism of a candidate or cause. I do mind criticism of only a single candidate or cause while pretending to be objective and without even examining its merits.

    It's incredibly obvious, as noted in this article, that the MSM is using this "Fake News" narrative to try to shift blame from itself, but it isn't just that; its also trying to control people's opinions. It's trying to destroy anything dangerous to not only the MSM, but their elite owners, by branding it "fake".

    1. Preston Munchensonton

      Re: At the risk of being negged to oblivion...

      The MSM didn't convince some many Obama voters to vote for Trump, or stay home. Trump won because Clinton didn't do enough to win.

    2. IsJustabloke

      Re: At the risk of being negged to oblivion...

      "The entire world was telling Britons how to vote, and calling them names if they happened to disagree"

      Brexit vote.

    3. cambsukguy

      Re: At the risk of being negged to oblivion...

      So they voted for Trump to 'show' us.

      Wow, they succeeded, just like the brexit voters.

      They sure showed us, no effect on them luckily, oh wait.

      Talk about cut your nose off to spite your face.

      Personally, I made thousands bringing Euros back to the UK when the pound plummeted, yay for me.

      1. Moosh

        Re: At the risk of being negged to oblivion...

        No, I'm pretty sure they voted Trump because "you" (as you seem to have allied yourself with the US Democrats) completely ignored their very real problems and instead played racial/sexual politics and called them racist.

        Perhaps instead of spending the entire campaign trying to decry the opposition, perhaps next time "you" should have some campaign points that aren't just "he's racist" or "i'm a woman".

        Even Bernie Sanders came out and said that the Democrats are in a sorry state if working class whites no longer believe they represent their best interests. You know what happened? The responses were full of people calling him racist. He tried to actually address the problem, and people who have been influenced by the narrative called him racist.

        Again, as I described, you're telling someone (for example, myself) that what I have done and what I believe is wrong. That is not the way to win votes or sympathy for your cause. You are also assuming that it is literally black and white; nevermind the many middle eastern and indian muslims I know who voted for Brexit; no, it could only be the fault of those old, racist white Britons.

        The left must overcome this hatred for the people they are supposed to be representing, or it will face decades of political ineffectiveness.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: At the risk of being negged to oblivion...

          I'm reminded of 1992 - except there is no soul searching being done.

          1. GrapeBunch

            Re: At the risk of being negged to oblivion...

            "I'm reminded of 1992"

            The Charlottetown Accord referendum of 1992. The Prime Minister, the Premiers of all 10 provinces, and the three major parties in parliament were for it. If they thought the referendum was a slam dunk, they didn't stint from campaigning for it. But when the votes were counted, a motley crew of opposition had carried the day, by almost 10% of the votes cast. Changed the landscape of politics in Canada. For a long while.

            Although there were good things in the Charlottetown Accord, I voted No, not so much because of the opposition's objections, but because I thought that the State, be it bureaucrats or the Federal or Provincial governments, was proposing to steal too many of my rights. I wanted to disturb the pigs from the trough. Or at least the right to say that I hadn't invited them to be there 24/7/365.

            I don't imagine that I ever would have voted for Trump, were it my civic privilege to vote in that election. Yet perhaps some did, for no better reason. Ditto for Brexit. So they saw it in Canada (not a country known for radical opinions) as early as 1992. And despite 24 years to strategize, the politocracy didn't solve the puzzle.

      2. IsJustabloke

        Re: At the risk of being negged to oblivion...

        Way to miss the point... but then you always do.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not a word about the lies told by CNN during the campaign though.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      What lies did CNN tell? That's a story I completely missed. Though as a non-American that would be no surprise.

  19. Adair Silver badge

    Why bother with Facebook anyway?

    Even my children (all in their 20s) have given up. Tumbleweeds roll through their pages, which they retain simply to keep up with one or two real, but distant, friends who insist on persevering with the disgusting suck. Entangled tumbleweeds are the only things that have ever had the misfortune to inhabit my own page, which, now that my progeny have essentially moved on, has no reason for existing.

    1. David Cox

      Re: Why bother with Facebook anyway?

      True, I only use facebook for keeping in contact with friends; both afar, and non-verbally while at our respective places or work (line manager get upset at private phone calls, but oddly don't notice under-desk smartphone use). Specifically though, it's Facebook Messenger that we all use, not the pages themselves.

      Mostly the Facebook pages have pictures of exploits, motivational messaging, adverts/trailers for "stuff we like" and food. And that's all; it ain't social anymore . . .

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fake news? I'm SHOCKED!

    Fake news? I'm shocked. Shocked!

    Actually, I always follow the advice given in this quote from one of the most famous of the US presidents, himself accused to being an ape, and worse: "The problem with internet quotes is that you can't always depend on their accuracy" -Abraham Lincoln, 1864

    (Posted anonymously because I live in the US and I'm thoroughly sick of the election.)

  21. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    The Ugly Truth

    Clinton was the weakest candidate that the Democrats have fielded in a long time, many people (including myself) voted for her because she was not as bad as Trump, but America is a racist society (on both side, black and white) and the "black" vote simply didn't see the need to vote for an old white woman - Clinton lost because so many people just didn't vote for her, while "white" Trump supporters were very energized to vote for him.

    Add to this that we haven't heard much about hacking the election this year - all the voting machines in America are built by Republican owned corporations so it's not too surprising that they tend to vote for Republicans. Is this true? I don't know but nobody can prove that the machines are honest - I find that scary.

    But physical hacking aside, social hacking sf the way to go these days it seems. I have a great many white relatives on Facebook and they were sharing very piece of crap as if it was real - and the believed it was, and that the moon landing were faked and wrestling is real - they are a sad bunch of idiots. I'm not kidding - they really DO BELIEVE that the moon landings were faked, that Obama is a Muslim and that he wasn't born in America and that Hillary is not a Christian (she's a Methodist).

    But the evil behind this is advertising - the click-bait they follow mindlessly that promotes any crap to get an eyeball, and thus advertising dollars - it doesn't matter if it's click bait in Macedonia or the US or the Daily Mail, they are sheep, driven to be shorn and slaughtered. And all click-bait cares about is the money.

    Frankly, I don't see a solution to this - America is doomed, I need to pack up and leave.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: The Ugly Truth

      America is doomed, I need to pack up and leave.

      That's a self-sustaining attitude, unfortunately, and is why we have such a bunch of career wankers in charge. The people who could make a difference all look at it and decide "I'm not getting involved in that crap" and either run away, or hunker down & cross their fingers that they won't be in front of the fan when the shit hits.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Ugly Truth

      Ah, actually, Soros has his fingers deep in that pie, and he ain't no Republican. Fake news indeed.

      And the USA isn't that racist but for the last 8 years we've had a coterie of rulers trying very hard to make it more so; with some success.

  22. chivo243 Silver badge


    Hopefully FB will achieve the status of myspace...

  23. Dieter Haussmann

    The mainstream media is dead because it lies, it no longer has the narrative, it published fake polls, is is hypocritical and selective. It just repeats 'releases' from news clearing houses AP & Reuters and there is no investigative journalism. Don't even get me started on the collusion with crime families exposed by wikileaks. People are sick of it.

    1. viscount

      I have noticed that on Trump and Brexit most "reputable" news outlets seem unable to string a coherent article together. Each article is actually a diatribe with a tiny leavening of facts and original reporting. It gets a little tiring when you actually want to read some news.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "The mainstream media is dead because it lies, it no longer has the narrative"

      You seem to imply that having "the narrative" means accurate reportage. I'd have thought it was just the opposite.

  24. Dave Bell

    Just what is Facebook?

    While it isn't a universal, the idea of the "common carrier" as being a necessary protection for internet operations isn't a bad one. Here in the UK it is pretty weak in such contexts as libel. But a publisher isn't a carrier.

    Companies such as Facebook seem to depend on being whichever needs the least work when the writ arrives, even when there is reason to think they're the other. What strikes me as making a difference is the way that so many news publishers on the internet use Facebook as a gatekeeper. If you want to comment on a story on a news site, maybe your local newspaper, you log in with your Facebook account, and there's no alternative.

    This seems a reason to class them as a publisher. How is Facebook, thrusting "selected" adverts to you, different to one of those advertising monthlies, tied to a locality or to an industry, which is printed on paper and arrives through your letterbox?

    And there are rules against adverts that look like "editorial" material.

    1. GrapeBunch

      Re: Just what is Facebook?

      " If you want to comment on a story on a news site, maybe your local newspaper, you log in with your Facebook account, and there's no alternative."

      I'd characterize it as something quite different: clickbait. Once you indicate your interest in commenting by clicking, the comment-companies want all sorts of more information about you, before they let you actually comment. To paraphrase General Jack Ripper, they crave your essence. I deny them.

  25. John H Woods Silver badge

    (unpopular) Solution

    Teach children critical thinking in school, and help them to be prepared to encounter advertising, propaganda and misuse of statistics.

    "The great body of physical science, a great deal of the essential fact of financial science, and endless social and political problems are only accessible and only thinkable to those who have had a sound training in mathematical analysis, and the time may not be very remote when it will be understood that for complete initiation as an efficient citizen of one of the new great complex world-wide States that are now developing, it is as necessary to be able to compute, to think in averages and maxima and minima, as it is now to be able to read and write." --- H G Wells

    1. Pompous Git Silver badge

      Re: (unpopular) Solution

      Teach children critical thinking in school, and help them to be prepared to encounter advertising, propaganda and misuse of statistics.
      Not likely to happen, but have an upvote anyway. I had the great good fortune to have a secondary teacher who engendered critical thinking in his students. We remain friends nearly 50 years later :-)

  26. viscount

    Not using Facebook much, I was surprised by the commotion about "fake news". Given how well Facebook can suppress pornography, breast-feeding etc I am surprised they cannot solve the problem in a similar crowd-sourced way, which leads me to conclude that the numbers involved probably all that significant anyway.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Main-Stream-Media has given little coverage...

    To Microsoft Windows-10 slurping or constant additions to Facebook & Google privacy settings. Its disappointing. When the MSM do write tech articles it sounds more like a homage or glorification. The Reg often stands alone in this regard...

  28. Leeroy

    Boris likes cake.

    Does he ? It must be true, I read it on the Internet.

    I really should ask him next time I see him.

  29. Grunchy Silver badge

    One point I heard is that the only time an American party won 3 consecutive terms (modern era) was the Republicans: Ronald Reagan (2 terms, 1981-1989) followed by George Bush Sr (1989-1993).

    So for Hillary to win a 3rd Democratic term would be practically unprecedented.

    The two main parties are desperately out of touch, pretty much none of the candidates had any popular appeal. That's why crackpots like me advocate for implementation of "negative voting". If you don't like any candidates and couldn't support any of them, why not be permitted to cast a negative vote against one?

    In my view, and I admit there's just about nobody else in the world who agrees with this: neither candidate deserved to be elected. I'm pretty sure that if people were allowed to cast negative votes, both candidates would have gotten a net score of below zero, meaning they would have both been declared unelectable.

    1. Pompous Git Silver badge

      In my view, and I admit there's just about nobody else in the world who agrees with this: neither candidate deserved to be elected.
      Here in the Land called Under, we are obliged to vote. When faced with a list of candidates to vote for, I have been known to write rude things about them, rather than cast a valid vote. It's called an informal vote and they are counted and growing at each election over the last few decades.

      Your simple idea has much merit.

    2. cambsukguy

      Many states in the US have Write in ballots, meaning it is legal to simply write the name of the person you want to vote for.

      The votes are counted (in the UK they are spoiled ballots).

      If all states allowed it and everyone voted for the same person, someone not on the ballot could win.

      Of course, if that were the case, they might well simply be a candidate.

  30. pyite

    No real way to solve this

    From a business perspective, Facebook has some work to do. There is no legal remedy for fake news, though -- people need to learn how to see through it. I can only imagine what it will be like in the next election.

    The simple fact is that Hillary took her base for granted. For example, she never visited Wisconsin and only went to Michigan in the last weeks once she realized how much trouble she was in. Presumably there are plenty of other examples.

    This merely brought things within the margin of error, though. The FBI pushed Trump over the finish line and are now personally beholden to him...

  31. mintus55


    This story points to the heart of Facebook's problem. Originally conceived as a way to stay in touch with people, a lot of facebook is now people sharing news articles.

    The problem with this is that browsing through links to pages that people have already visited is a fundamentally boring proposition - a bit like going to the library.

    I think Snapchat does have an edge here, as a lot of the content is user generated, and so isn't a repetitive blend of bien pensant links. I'm not saying watching jerky videos is fun, but it's better than going to the FaceLibrary.

  32. chivo243 Silver badge

    In this day and age

    Isn't all news fake to some degree? I don't think any news is really accurate, I think you have to had witnessed it yourself, and then details morph in your own mind over time. Ask anyone who takes statements from witnesses at crime scenes. Your mind fills in the gaps surrounding details of events that take place under psychological stress.

    1. cambsukguy

      Re: In this day and age

      "Today, a large sinkhole opened up in a street in Japan".

      "Rubbish", "made up", "Who says?"

      "The Bank of England voted to raise interest rates by 25 base points".

      Lots of news is 'True' - for reasonable values of True.

      Also, like shit spam, it is fairly easy to spot the bull.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Stuck IN the Middle

    I live in the middle of a VERY red state, surrounded by Obama HATERS. Coal is all they talk about, mainly cause oil and gas development has always come and gone (and they blame Obama for that too).

    The fake news is not just from Facebook, in my church maybe three people out 60 are active with FB, so those three email, print and share to people who only have access to two media outlets NPR (National Public Radio) and a conservative local radio that still carries Rush Limbaugh, (they also feel the NPR liberals should be banned from the airwaves). Those three people (or so) seek out internet sites that are even more fake and fuel the flames of the whole group as they seek only news that matches what got them all fired up in the first place.

    There in lies the issue, doesn’t matter if the news media is unbiased when the consumers of that information only want or accept what matches their point of view already. If the people are not looking for facts, or to verify the truth of the facts they do accept, it won’t matter where they get it from or even if they are facts.

    I have liberal friends that do the very same thing in other parts of the USA.

    I stand in the middle actually checking what each side often shouts at me debunking most of it, and often finding a completely new narrative. It does not matter to which side I talk to, it is like explaining electricity to a caveman – it is all witchcraft and they want me burned at the stake (conservatives) or prosecuted by the law for heresy (strangely that is both the left and right). Even showing them how these sites get paid to stir them up just marks me all the more in their eyes.

    Anybody got a quiet corner of the world where I can hide out till these two sides kill each other off?

    Posted anonymously for my own protection....

    1. cambsukguy

      Re: Stuck IN the Middle

      You live in a horrible place.

      I have visited much of the US, not since 9/11 but extensively prior to that.

      I avoided all the southern states, except southern Florida of course and didn't venture any further into Va than Arlington, just in case.

      Whilst much of the US is friendly and outwardly generous, much of it is so casually racist it is hard to believe, if you come from these parts that is.

      On my first trip, back in '84, I had dinner with my US business contact and his wife. Both white, both middle class.

      So, having known this person for two days the following joke was spoken at the dinner table by the guy, in front of his English (business) guest and his wife.

      Do not read further if you are easily offended.

      "What is the different between a Black Bowling ball and a Black pussy? You could eat a Bowling ball if you had to".

      Can't help but feel it hasn't gotten better, won't be going back.

  34. Bruce Ordway


    When I think of Facebook it's more of online entertainment, the equivalent of printed media like People and the National Enquirer. In my area it seems like more people are getting their political insights more from radio or cable news... CNN and FOX. I might encounter someone who is still reads newspapers or magazines too. Rarely do I hear lines repeated that are obviously from some "fake" story online.

    As to why people liked Trump over Clinton? I have a few right in my own family & I still can't figure out why they feel that way.

  35. Colin Millar

    Facebook trying to be relevant?

    None of this is new at all - political elites have been lying to their voters since voting was invented. Edward de Bernays - the darling of the liberal elites - saw the future in the 20s and it was full of people voting for the wrong man so he pretty much formalised all the ad hoc lying, put it on a sound business footing and made loadsamoney!!! He had a pretty chilling term for all this - "Engineering consent"

    Well - here we are 100 years on having combined the liberal notion of engineered consent (aka "stroking") and the authoritarian big lie and we get the European Union (where in recent years some of their leading lights have dropped hints about the need to formalise respect for the state), the USA (where the liberal elites are blaming the voters for believing the wrong set of lies) and their opponents - Brexit and Trump - who simply took page 1 from the Science of Ballyhoo and told people what they wanted to hear more loudly and more confidently.

    De Bernays will be turning on his spit in hell at a fair old rate of knots about now.

  36. russell 6

    What if the serious newspapers pulled their websites

    Would ppl go back to buying the print version? This way they would also be able to run ads that would actually be seen and are not intrusive. I have to say that I also enjoy sitting down with a cuppa and the papers. The internet has been becoming more of a cesspit the last few years, time to quit and get out, it is killing their business. For those who prefer a digital version for their tablets etc, what about digital kiosks where ppl can quickly download an ebook version on their way to work. Put a quid in the slot, chose from touch screen which paper or magazine you want, it prints out a ticket with a one time passcode for your download from the kiosk

  37. dalethorn

    Like the New York Times and others, who in provable fact DO employ CIA and Army Psyop personnel in their news departments, this story contains an egregious lie - that before Social Media, these big newspapers did honest fact-checking. Bullcrap, to the googol power. The reporting on 9/11 alone was the most ludicrous excuse for journalism imaginable. And Trump pointed it out to them directly.

  38. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

    You don't have to be crazy to work here, but it helps.

    Leave Facebook to the crazies, guys.

    Apply here...

  39. WatAWorld

    Fake News exists in major 'well respected' news publications too

    1. An example of fake news from close to home:

    "to help penetration testers" LOL.

    Seems to me it is to drum up money for security dudes by creating widely available tools that create the environment necessary for hiring them.

    If the objective was to enhance security on the web these so-called testing tools would leave behind some sort of serial number or indelible trace that would lead to the registered purchaser of the 'testing' product.

    2. One could easily come up with fake news examples from the NY Times and Washington Posts during the last election:

    a. Every single poll in the last 2 weeks that showed Clinton headed to overwhelming victory.

    b. The political items summary after the Republican Primary was over that showed a couple of articles on Clinton, a dozen articles on the yesterday's news of the Republican Primary, and one article on Sanders indicating how Clinton was better. And this making people think Sanders wasn't campaigning went on for over a week.)

    3. The Guardian is even worse, what with articles stating without question or editorial remark that "all men are racist", that "all white people are racist" and that "only white people are racist".

    That is the thing with fake news, genuine media outlets become full of false news because so often reporters and journalists either start to personally identify with sources.

    Major 'well respected' news organizations full of it, but like the rest of us they don't see their own failings.

    Of course comedy on a comedy website is relatively harmless compared to propaganda from a 'well respected' news site.

  40. crediblywitless

    John "Red" Comyn, stabbed by Robert the Bruce at the altar of Greyfriars kirk in Dumfries, Feruary 1306, was responsible for Hillary Clinton losing the election? Boggle.

  41. MNGrrrl

    FACT CHECK: El Reg missed something

    Facebook used to have a curated staff for its news feed. They were all fired amidst complaints that it had a "liberal bias" -- and replaced with an algorithm, something that might sound familiar... since it has been how Facebook responds to everything: Get rid of people, replace them with machines. WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG? Well, harassment of minorities and elimination of their Facebook presence thanks to automatic reporting and their 'real name' policy, to start with. Housing and employment discrimination on the basis of race... again, because 'algorithms did it'.


    And if "the algorithm did it" sounds like a way of shirking responsibility, it is. But it underscores a more fundamental problem: Namely, that when algorithms provide our content instead of people, when they are what is politicing the community, they are biased towards profit, not silly things like civil rights, human dignity, ethics, or morality. The result is pretty much what you'd expect. Google created the greatest algorithm for confirmation bias the world has ever known, and everyone is copying it because it makes money.


    The end result is while we are drowning in information, we're less informed than ever. Thanks, math. Good job.

  42. Tom Paine

    The population, we are told,

    "We are told" is the magic phrase. The only other places that phrase is used are the Daily Mail and John "Paul Dacre is my hero" Humphries on the BBC R4 "Today" programme. Examine the implicit background to that phrase and have a good think about the implications.

  43. richardalm

    We're getting warmer

    "More than ever, a clickbait world (that is itself riddled with ad fraud)..."

    Flip on the ad blocker, see less fake news. Can't talk about one without talking about the other. Unless you're a publisher.

  44. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

    Thanks, Andrew

    for a cogent, informative, and "even" article. How illustrative of the problem that I had to come to a British IT news organization to get such an article about the US election result.

  45. GrapeBunch

    The Sun Also Rises

    I was with AO until the words: "This slander ..." which made me think American intellectual filled with ennui. Whereas maybe he wanted to us to regard the electorate as filled with ennui. Still, a good read. Thanks.

  46. Tommoxyz

    Good article. Keep them coming.

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