Next week, if all goes well, someone will win the presidency. What happens after that is anyone’s guess. Will the losing side believe the results? Will the bulk of Americans recognize the legitimacy of the new president? And will we all be able to clean up the piles of lies, hoaxes and other dung that have been hurled so freely in this hyper-charged, fact-free election?
Much of that remains unclear, because the internet is distorting our collective grasp on the truth. Polls show that many of us have burrowed into our own echo chambers of information. In a recent Pew Research Center survey, 81 percent of respondents said that partisans not only differed about policies, but also about “basic facts.”
For years, technologists and other utopians have argued that online news would be a boon to democracy. That has not been the case.
More than a decade ago, as a young reporter covering the intersection of technology and politics, I noticed the opposite. The internet was filled with 9/11 truthers, and partisans who believed against all evidence that George W. Bush stole the 2004 election from John Kerry, or that Barack Obama was a foreign-born Muslim. (He was born in Hawaii and is a practicing Christian.)
Of course, America has long been entranced by conspiracy theories. But the online hoaxes and fringe theories appeared more virulent than their offline predecessors. They were also more numerous and more persistent. During Mr. Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, every attempt to debunk the birther rumor seemed to raise its prevalence online.
In a 2008 book, I argued that the internet would usher in a “post-fact” age. Eight years later, in the death throes of an election that features a candidate who once led the campaign to lie about President Obama’s birth, there is more reason to despair about truth in the online age.
Why? Because if you study the dynamics of how information moves online today, pretty much everything conspires against truth.
You’re Not Rational
The root of the problem with online news is something that initially sounds great: We have a lot more media to choose from.
The Latest on: Truth and facts
[google_news title=”” keyword=”truth and facts” num_posts=”10″ blurb_length=”0″ show_thumb=”left”]
via Google News
The Latest on: Truth and facts
- The truth about child abuse in the MEPon March 2, 2024 at 8:08 am
He had written a research paper on the alleged child sexual abuse committed by some MEP priests in Asia and its cover-up by the group's authorities. Although they have admitted there was a clerical ...
- Opinion: Presidential election should be won by truth-tellingon March 2, 2024 at 1:00 am
One presumptive candidate is more likely to speak the truth than the other. That's the candidate we should be voting for.
- RFK Jr: How anti-vaccine misinformation has shaped his 'truth-teller' candidacyon March 2, 2024 at 12:20 am
Mr Kennedy, who is running for US president, is seen by supporters as a truth-teller, but often spreads falsehoods.
- Fact Check: The Truth Behind Aaron Bushnell's Supposed Antisemitic Comments on Redditon February 29, 2024 at 3:46 pm
According to some posts on X (formerly known as Twitter), a Reddit account supposedly used by Aaron Bushnell, the U.S. Air Force member who died in February 2024 after lighting himself on fire in ...
- The truth about illegal immigration and crimeon February 29, 2024 at 12:00 am
Never mind that violent crime rates, especially for homicide in large cities, have fallen sharply during Biden’s presidency, after a surge during the pandemic. Trump, as he often did during his ...
- Fact Check: Here's the Truth About What Screen Legend Robert De Niro Said of Former U.S. President Donald Trumpon February 28, 2024 at 5:05 pm
In a resurfaced statement read at The New Republic Stop Trump Summit, actor De Niro labeled Trump "evil," with “no regard for anyone but himself." ...
- Fact Check: The Truth About an Antisemitic Reddit Post Attributed to Israel-Hamas War Protester Aaron Bushnellon February 28, 2024 at 3:41 pm
The internet has become an unofficial front in that war and is rife with misinformation, which Snopes is dedicated to countering with facts and context. You can help. Read the latest fact checks.
- International Fact-Checking Networkon February 26, 2024 at 4:00 pm
The International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN ... and initiatives that advance accountability in journalism. We believe truth and transparency can help people be better informed and equipped ...
- Bill Gouveia: The truth is on life support and only we can save iton February 25, 2024 at 8:30 pm
For so long, many of us have believed the real problem in this country was the truth not being properly and completely made available to the American public. For that ...
via Bing News