Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Germans, Facts, and Fake News

State-run public-TV ARD (Channel One in Germany) has set up a fake news site called the Faktenfinder.

The mission?  Well....they will attempt to find stories which are fake and let the public know about them.  And they will attempt to educate the public to recognize fake stories.

I sat and read through the various pieces put up on the site.

They did pick up on a AfD brochure piece, where the political party did stretch the truth on Koblenz and it's sale of property.  This was not so much fake news, as false political talk.  It would lead me to ask if Faktenfinder folks would examine the diesel trends in Stuttgart, or pick up on the BER airport updates from the city of Berlin.  I kinda doubt it.

A "crisis of facts"?  Since the dawn of civilization....mankind has had to deal with a continuing crisis of facts.  In some cases, it was simply too many facts to come to a rational understanding.  In other cases, it was few facts with some expert giving dumping speculation on you which might or might-not be true. We've reached a stage now with news where you might get 200 news pieces in one single day, and to be honest....95-percent have little to nothing to affect you or your lifestyle.

I regularly read through not only newspapers in our era....but also from 50 to 100 years ago.  It's an odd thing when you read articles from the 1890s....where the bulk of a newspaper chatted about things within 50 miles of their publishing location, and you found out about lost horses, a fire at such-and-such barn, or that relatives were visiting the Widow Perkins from the Ozarks.  Today's news wants to involve you in some terrible snake problem in Malpuri, India, or let you know about the toilet paper shortage in Venezuela, or discuss at length about some Icelandic gal who showed up topless at the Arkanes public pool (folks weren't expecting that kind of behavior).

The problem with this whole fake news discussion in the public eye....is that eventually....some folks will wake up, and start to ask pointed questions.  This will evolve into a 360-degree observation and then invoke criticism of various stories.  It won't be just fake stories, but bias stories, deliberate misinformation, and false characterizations.   Legit news sites will be viewed as much as fake news sites.

I expect in two years that this whole trendy thing of the Faktenfinder and fake news will quietly be retired and the news media folks try to restart the thing from scratch....pretending that they solved the whole mess.  When they start to realize that fewer than 200 hits a day occur with their fact-checker....the question will be if it was ever necessary.

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