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Twitter puts Infowars’ Alex Jones in the ‘read-only’ sin bin for 7 days

Twitter has finally taken action against Infowars creator Alex Jones, but it isn’t what you might think.

While Apple, Facebook, Google/YouTube, Spotify and many others have removed Jones and his conspiracy-peddling organization Infowars from their platforms, Twitter has remained unmoved with its claim that Jones hasn’t violated rules on its platform.

That was helped in no small way by the mysterious removal of some tweets last week, but now Jones has been found to have violated Twitter’s rules, as CNET first noted.

Twitter is punishing Jones for a tweet that violates its community standards but it isn’t locking him out forever. Instead, a spokesperson for the company confirmed that Jones’ account is in “read-only mode” for up to seven days.

That means he will still be able to use the service and look up content via his account, but he’ll be unable to engage with it. That means no tweets, likes, retweets, comments, etc. He’s also been ordered to delete the offending tweet — more on that below — in order to qualify for a fully functioning account again.

That restoration doesn’t happen immediately, though. Twitter policy states that the read-only sin bin can last for up to seven days “depending on the nature of the violation.” We’re imagining Jones got the full one-week penalty, but we’re waiting on Twitter to confirm that.

The offending tweet in question is a link to a story claiming President “Trump must take action against web censorship.” It looks like the tweet has already been deleted, but not before Twitter judged that it violates its policy on abuse:

Abuse: You may not engage in the targeted harassment of someone, or incite other people to do so. We consider abusive behavior an attempt to harass, intimidate, or silence someone else’s voice.

When you consider the things Infowars and Jones have said or written — 9/11 conspiracies, harassment of Sandy Hook victim families and more — the content in question seems fairly innocuous. Indeed, you could look at President Trump’s tweets and find seemingly more punishable content without much difficulty.

But here we are.

The weirdest part of this Twitter caning is one of the reference points that the company gave to media. These days, it is common for the company to point reporters to specific tweets that it believes encapsulate its position on an issue, or provide additional color in certain situations.

In this case, Twitter pointed us — and presumably other reporters — to this tweet from Infowars’ Paul Joseph Watson:

Alex Jones has been suspended by Twitter for 7 days for a video talking about social media censorship. Truly, monumentally, beyond stupid. 😄

On the same day that the Infowars website was brought down by a cyber attack.

Will this madness ever end? pic.twitter.com/hXDzH2b7rT

— Paul Joseph Watson (@PrisonPlanet) August 14, 2018

WTF, Twitter…

Apple has removed Infowars podcasts from iTunes

Apple has followed the lead of Google and Facebook after it removed Infowars, the conspiracy theorist organization helmed by Alex Jones, from its iTunes and podcasts apps.

Unlike Google and Facebook, which removed four Infowars videos on the basis that the content violated its policies, Apple’s action is wider-reaching. The company has withdrawn all episodes of five of Infowars’ six podcasts from its directory of content, leaving just one left, a show called ‘Real News With David Knight.’

The removals were first spotted on Twitter. Later, Apple confirmed it took action on account of the use of hate speech which violates its content guidelines.

“Apple does not tolerate hate speech, and we have clear guidelines that creators and developers must follow to ensure we provide a safe environment for all of our users. Podcasts that violate these guidelines are removed from our directory making them no longer searchable or available for download or streaming. We believe in representing a wide range of views, so long as people are respectful to those with differing opinions,” a spokesperson told TechCrunch.

Apple’s action comes after fellow streaming services Spotify and Stitcher removed Infowars on account of its use of hate speech.

Jones has used Infowars, and by association the platforms of these media companies, to broadcast a range of conspiracy theories which have included claims 9/11 was an inside job and alternate theories to the San Bernardino shootings. In the case of another U.S. mass shooting, Sandy Hook, Jones and Infowars’ peddling of false information and hoax theories was so severe that some of the families of the deceased, who have been harassed online and faced death threats, have been forced to move multiple times. A group is suing Jones via a defamation suit.

Lol now Facebook is just making fake news smaller

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Facebook really wishes its problems would just disappear. But, since that’s clearly not going to happen, maybe they could, I don’t know, get smaller?

That appears to be the thinking of Mark Zuckerberg and Co., who on Friday announced that the company’s new plan to combat fake news essentially boils down to font size. 

So reports TechCrunch, which notes that Facebook’s latest grand idea is to reduce the amount of space articles take up in the News Feed if their accuracy has been disputed by the company’s third-party fact checkers.  Read more…

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Lol now Facebook is just making fake news smaller

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Facebook really wishes its problems would just disappear. But, since that’s clearly not going to happen, maybe they could, I don’t know, get smaller?

That appears to be the thinking of Mark Zuckerberg and Co., who on Friday announced that the company’s new plan to combat fake news essentially boils down to font size. 

So reports TechCrunch, which notes that Facebook’s latest grand idea is to reduce the amount of space articles take up in the News Feed if their accuracy has been disputed by the company’s third-party fact checkers.  Read more…

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Don't fall for these fake Facebook videos of Hurricane Irma, like millions of other people did

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More breaking news, and another score of fake videos and Facebook Lives, attracting tens of millions of views. 

The first example is this 30-second video which falsely claims to depict Hurricane Irma devastating the islands of Antigua and Barbuda in the Caribbean. 

The video, which was shared on Facebook by Hendry Moya Duran, attracted more than 27 million views and more than 789,000 shares. 

However, the footage he used is at least more than one year old, and it allegedly shows a tornado that hit Dolores, Uruguay, in May 2016, according to several comments on this YouTube video from that time.  Read more…

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Aliens destroyed life on Mars, now Trump’s poised to do the same to Earth, in this week’s tabloids

It’s good to see this week’s tabloids getting back to the really important news.

“Aliens Nuked All Life Off Of Mars!” proclaims the ‘National Examiner,’ which also brings us the more earth-bound revelation that disgraced President Richard Nixon, while happy to meet with Elvis Presley, “ordered hits on Hendrix, Joplin and Morrison.”

It’s important news like this that distracts us from the ‘National Enquirer’ cover this week, which with characteristic restraint screams: “World War 3 Is Coming!” But fear not – the ‘Enquirer’ brings us a “step-by-step” guide to “How Trump will crush our eight enemies!” Eight, indeed. No slouch, our Commander in Chief will “launch a coordinated campaign across five continents that will wipe out America’s enemies in one fell swoop!” And those are the best kind of swoops.

It’s the sort of bombast we’ve come to expect from North Korea, but it’s troubling to find such bellicosity (yet again) in the pages of a publication that boasts better connections to the White House than ‘The New York Times.’ Our enemies? North Korea and ISIS, naturally. Syria will be nuked – that’ll put Trump in the history books, if there are any that survive the ensuing global conflagration.

But then the ‘Enquirer’ battle plans get a little hazy. Iran will be hit by severe sanctions. U.S. troops will maneuver along the border with Russia to prevent their intervention. Boko Haram in Nigeria and al-Shabaab in Somalia will be targeted. ISIS and al-Qaeda cells in Spain, France, Germany and Italy will be hit. (By this point, we might be wondering if any nation’s sovereignty is to be respected.) And while they’re at it, U.S. forces will destroy the drug cartels’ narcotics operations “throughout Mexico and South America.” I can’t wait to hear Donald Trump announce that he’ll achieve all that within his second 100 days in office.

The ‘Enquirer’ seems to be having a special homophobia edition this week, with three major gay-shock-horror stories in its first seven pages. ‘Gay Travolta New Squeeze’ yells the grammatically-challenged headline above a story that amounts to John Travolta being photographed giving a thumbs-up sitting next to another man, in what looks like every fan photo ever taken with a celebrity, and nothing more. Ellen DeGeneres, Portia de Rossi and Drew Barrymore’s ‘Love Triangle Exposed!’ declares the ‘Enquirer,’ which claims that the former ‘E.T. – The Extraterrestrial’ cutie has come between Ellen and her gal. Oh sure, Ellen and Drew are partners working together on a new TV series – but that can only be a front for lesbian sex, right? The ‘Enquirer’ team of trained psychics know these things. And then there’s “Oprah & Gayle’s Gaycation With The Obamas!’ Because being on a yacht with the former President and First Lady, along with Bruce Springsteen and Tom Hanks, screams lesbian, because two women couldn’t possibly just be friends, could they?

‘Dying Queen Collapses!” yells the ‘Globe’ cover, with a series of photographs that appear to show her fall, helpfully captioned “Going . . . Going . . . Gone!” You have to credit the ‘Globe’ for its extraordinary photojournalism, capturing images of a Royal collapse that was missed by the entirety of the British media. Of course, ‘Globe’ editors probably don’t expect their readers to do the research to find that these photos of the Queen were actually taken in July 2015 at the christening of Her Majesty’s great-granddaughter Charlotte, at the Church of St Mary Magdalene in Sandringham, England. Nor do they expect readers to find that the photo of the Queen bent double as she apparently collapses is actually Her Majesty bending down to greet great-grandson Prince George outside the church. Look closely and you can see Royal nanny Teresa Borallo standing right next to the Queen. And the photo of a handful of soldiers standing around looking down at the ground – supposedly at an unconscious monarch, though we’ll never know because she’s not in the camera frame – could easily be looking at one of the Royal Guardsmen who routinely faint after standing to attention for hours during major public ceremonies. But not that day, when nobody collapsed, least of all the Queen.

Fortunately we have the intrepid investigative team at ‘Us’ magazine to tell us that Kourtney Kardashian wore it best (which I suspect has something to do with the fact that she was naked and bra-less under her Saint Lauren dinner jacket, while Emma Watson opted for an elegant shirt), that NBC anchor Lester Holt “could eat Mexican food every day,” that ‘American Housewife’ actress Katy Mixon carries a teasing comb and hair spray in her Gucci bag, and that the stars are just like us: they spray on sunscreen, walk their dogs, and play golf. Extraordinary. The magazine devotes its cover to “20 Slimdown Diet Tips Stars Are Using,’ featuring a slew of stars who barely have a spare ounce of body fat between them, so their diets must clearly be working.

‘People’ magazine devotes its cover to TV’s ever-popular ‘Bachelorette’ series, under the headline: “Life After Bachelorette.” But the headline seems to be missing the question mark I would have added at the end of that sentence. The feature story tells how six former Bachelorettes found love, and are raising new babies (no doubt because it’s just no fun raising old babies). Admittedly, only two of these six have married men they actually met on the show, so that doesn’t speak well for the program’s ability to bring loving couples together. And fulfilling their dream of finding a husband seems to have had an unexpected dark side. “We used to stay up late and party,” says former Bachelorette Ashley Rosenbaum. “Now we all have bags under our eyes, pushing strollers!” Who could have guessed?

Onwards and downwards . . .

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Crunch Report | ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ Trailer…Woooah

The Last Jedi Star Wars trailer is released, Facebook runs ads in French newspapers educating people on fake news and Apple gets permission from the DMV to start testing self-driving cars. All this on Crunch Report. Read More

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Florida skunk ape is real and “gives out a horrifying odor”: National Examiner

You have to admire the insight, investigative prowess and sheer imagination of the tabloids, which this week are brimming with information that few people on earth could possibly know.

It has been widely reported that a Secret Service agent’s laptop was stolen from her car, containing blueprints of President Trump’s homes. But only the ‘National Enquirer’ has the inside scoop to reveal the culprit behind the theft: “Terrorists steal laptop.”

It’s doubtless the same network of impeccable inside sources that allows the ‘Globe’ to definitively report that a “booze-free” Ben Affleck “packs on 48 lbs,” presumably because they have bugged his bathroom scales and know he hasn’t gained 47 lbs or 49 lbs – it’s exactly 48 lbs. That’s how accurate their information is.

The ‘Globe’ promises veteran actor Michael Caine disclosing: “My Cancer Hell!” And what hell it is! Beneath the headline “Michael Caine, 84, Wrestling Death!” the British star confesses that he tries to eat healthily so that he never gets cancer. Way to wrestle, Michael. “I know my days are numbered,” he says. “I’ll probably drop dead.” And that’s a quote that everyone alive could safely say without fear of contradiction. Great reporting.

“Starsky & Hutch Deathbed Reunion!” screams the ‘Globe’ cover, though the photos of Paul Michael Glaser pushing his former TV co-star David Soul in a wheelchair suggests otherwise. If Glaser was pushing Soul in a Sealy Posturepedic down the street I’d buy the “deathbed reunion,” but last time I checked the fact of being in a wheelchair didn’t mean you had hours left to live.

Antonio Banderas recently admitted suffering a heart attack, and the ‘Enquirer’ reports that he has flown to Switzerland for “life-saving treatment.” Which doesn’t quite explain why he has gone to a clinic known for its cosmetic surgery procedures.

Ellen Degeneres told her TV talk show recently that she drank “two glasses of wine and fell into a door,” dislocating a finger – but that’s enough for the ‘Enquirer’ to brand it a “booze binge” and for the ‘Globe’ to report: “Wino Ellen Needs Rehab Right Now!” You have to look twice to notice the really small print just below the headline, adding the crucial words: “pals fear.” Because that’s what friends are for in Hollywood: telling the tabloids what nightmares could befall their celebrity BFFs.

“Lady killer O.J. Simpson plans to hook up with monster mom Casey Anthony after he’s released from the slammer – because they’re perfect for each other!” reports the ‘Globe,’ in one of those why-didn’t-I-think-of-that ideas that springs up at editorial meetings and seems like a really good idea by the time you get to the bar after work, and doesn’t require a scintilla of evidence to support, because it’s such a great idea. The fact that they’ve never met or spoken is beside the point.

The ‘Globe’ also devotes two pages to Princess Diana’s death, revealing: “Charles Murder Motive Exposed!” The report explains: “Diana had to die so British would accept his marriage to Hussy Camilla!” Because if they had simply divorced, the public would never have sanctioned Charles’ remarrying Camilla Parker-Bowles, it seems to argue. “Divorce wasn’t enough.” Facts? Who needs them? Not the ‘Globe,’ which repeats its old assertion that Diana survived her Paris car crash almost 20 years ago and was killed with a poison injection in the ambulance. It falls back on its well-worn unnamed “royal source.” My guess is it’s the Queen, accepting under-the-table payments of $25 for every story she gives them, since the tabloids reported last year that she was “broke.”

‘Us’ magazine devotes its cover to Keeping Up With The Kardashians’ former bit-player and occasional basketball player Lamar Odom, admitting that everything he put ex-wife Khloé Kardashian through “was my fault.” And possibly the fault of the hookers. And the many other women he slept with. And the drugs. And booze. And his 12 strokes and two heart attacks. “Secrets I’ve never told,” proclaims the cover, though the world has long known all of this, without Odom ever having to say a word. You have to expect that, Lamar, if the ambulance picks you up at a brothel.

At least it’s better than ‘People’ magazine’s feature on TV’s ‘Suits’ actress dating Prince Harry: “Meghan Markle’s Untold Story.” Which amounts to friends saying that “she’s incredibly cool and down-to-earth,” and “is a strong advocate for women and girls.” If that’s the “untold story” (which we’ve heard a dozen times before) please don’t tell us anything more about her.

Fortunately we have ‘Us’ magazine’s intrepid investigative team to tell us that Chrissy Teigen wore it best, rapper Future never eats seafood because “I ain’t down with how it smells,” actress and Real Housewife of Beverly Hills Lisa Rinna carries Alka-Seltzer for the morning-after-the-night-before, Clorox wipes to clean germs from light switches, and a Kabbalah red string in her Gucci bag, and that the stars are just like us: they drink coffee, carry their luggage, bicycle, and walk their dogs. And the paparazzi are there to make sure we don’t miss a moment of it.

The ‘National Examiner’ devotes two pages to a report that the mythical “Florida skunk ape” may be real, after recent video allegedly shows an unidentified animal lurking behind palmetto branches. It was probably a paparazzo, though the ‘Enquirer’ would be certain to identify this as a terrorist, and for the ‘Examiner’ it’s evidence of the “legendary figure who haunts the depths of the state’s perilous bogs and gives out a horrifying odor.”

Hats off to the ‘Examiner’ for its full page under the headline: “Intuition: Do you have it?” If you didn’t see that coming, then you probably don’t.

Onwards and downwards . . .

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British newspapers want Facebook and Google investigated over fake news

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UK news publishers think they’ve found a solution for the rise of “fake news”: investigate the “duopoly” of Google and Facebook. 

The News Media Association (NMA), which represents the UK newspaper industry, called on British lawmakers to grill representatives from both companies and hold them to account for spreading and profiting from the phenomenon. 

Fake news, argues the NMA, is easy to produce because its creators don’t have to spend money or time on proper fact-checking or reporting — unlike real journalism.  Read more…

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British newspapers want Facebook and Google investigated over fake news

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UK news publishers think they’ve found a solution for the rise of “fake news”: investigate the “duopoly” of Google and Facebook. 

The News Media Association (NMA), which represents the UK newspaper industry, called on British lawmakers to grill representatives from both companies and hold them to account for spreading and profiting from the phenomenon. 

Fake news, argues the NMA, is easy to produce because its creators don’t have to spend money or time on proper fact-checking or reporting — unlike real journalism.  Read more…

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Punctuation inflation has infected the tabloids!

Extraordinary!!!

Exclamation points have over-run the tabloids like Macaques monkeys swarming the streets of New Delhi – and with much the same effect.

Every story on the cover of the ‘Globe’ merits its own angry exclamation point: “Hillary Caught Taking Bribes!” “Barack okayed the shady deal!” “Scandal: Her ties to Russia exposed!” “Now they’ll both go to jail!” “Priscilla Elopes With Tom!” “Now they’re raising Lisa Marie’s twins, 8!” “Travolta secret sex swap!”

The ‘National Enquirer’ is no better: “Prez Trump Tell-All: How I’m Cleaning Up Obama’s Mess!” “Making Medicine Cheap Again!” “25 Million New High Paying Jobs!” “$3 Trillion Economic Jump-Start!” “Jackson’s Diary Proves He Was Murdered!” “Daughter Paris Is Right!”
So many exclamation points! It’s exhausting!

Exclamation marks are intended to emphasize something of major interest, but punctuation inflation has infected the tabloids, so that every story is screaming for attention, and as a result nothing seems shocking any more.

“Judy Garland Was Murdered!” screams the cover to the ‘National Examiner.’ Yawn. “Tom Selleck Secret Medical Crisis!” Okay – he reportedly has arthritis. Shocking. And the exclamation points keep coming: “Warren Beatty Turns 80! Inside His Amazing Life!” “Judge Judy’s $200 million Garage Sale!” “Cruise Ship Murders!”

Virtually every story in this week’s ‘Enquirer’ is cursed with an exclamation point, with only a handful of notable exceptions: the “Ask The Vet” column offering pet advice, the so-dubious-we-don’t-believe-it-for-a-minute headline about country singer Blake Shelton: “Blake Back On The Bottle?” and the photo of Caroline Kennedy in a swimsuit under the headline: “Camelot Comes to the Caribbean,” for which I assume a sub-editor will be fired for failing to add the obligatory exclamation point.

Otherwise, exclamation points are called upon to add urgency and importance to such dubious news stories as: “Caitlyn’s Crushing on Boy George!” “Judge Wapner’s Verdict on Judy: Overpaid!” “Hard Workouts Weaken Sex Drive!” and “Keeping A Cool Head!” (a story about the so-called “International Hair Freezing Contest” at Takhini Hot Springs spa.)

The celebrity glossy magazines are hardly immune to punctuation inflation.

“My Dream Baby!” screams the cover of ‘People’ magazine, reporting on ‘Today’ show host Hoda Kotb’s baby adoption. “Ben & Jen Divorce on Hold!” ‘Us’ magazine offers us “Ali’s Wedding Album!” with the assumption that we all know TV’s former ‘Bachelorette’ Ali Fedotowsky, and are shocked – shocked!! – that she’s finally tied the knot.

The celebrity magazines appear to use exclamation points more as decorative touches than to mark an extraordinary story.

“Life’s a Beach!” screams the ‘People’ headline above a photo of ‘Dancing With The Stars’ alumnus Julianne Hough, who is intriguingly not pictured at a beach or even near a beach, but instead is seen aboard a luxury yacht in Mexico. “Harry And Meghan’s Date!” yells a ‘People’ headline above a blurry long-distance photo of Prince Harry and girlfriend Meghan Markle holding hands in Jamaica. “Brie Larson: She’s Also a Photographer!” Extraordinary – an actress who can take photos too! Whatever next?

‘Us’ magazine seems more enamored of the exclamation point, capping all its photo headlines in its “Hot Pics!” section: “Royal Island Romance!” “”J. Lo Shimmers!” “Olsens Under Cover!” “Taking Paws on the Go!” “A Girlfriends’ Getaway!” “Good Times, for Shore!” “Love’s Afloat for Dev!” “Smooth Political Moves!” “An Emerald Queen B!”

Enough already!

Fortunately, we have the crack investigative team at ‘Us’ mag to tell us that Kendall Jenner wore it best, Emily Deschanel loses her keys or phone “multiple times a day,” ‘The Catch’ star Sonya Walger carries lip gloss, anti-perspirant and her son’s model toy car in her Mansur Gavriel satchel, and that the stars are just like us: they share snacks, ride bikes, play soccer, and run errands. “Stars: They’re Just Like Us!” proclaims the headline. Because nothing could be more extraordinary than seeing a star eating or playing tennis.

The award for the most appropriate use of an exclamation point this week goes to the ‘Examiner,’ with its headline: “Jet Has A Near Miss – With A UFO!” This supposedly occurred before “hundreds of air show spectators” who saw a jet pass an unidentified object in the sky. A weather balloon? An orbiting satellite? “Nobody knows for sure what exactly the mysterious disk is . . . ” reports the ‘Examiner,’ ” . . . but it could be alien-based.”

Onwards and downwards . . .

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Three kinds of propaganda, and what to do about them

Jonathan Stray summarizes three different strains of propaganda, analyzing why they work, and suggesting counter-tactics: in Russia, it’s about flooding the channel with a mix of lies and truth, crowding out other stories; in China, it’s about suffocating arguments with happy-talk distractions, and for trolls like Milo Yiannopoulos, it’s weaponizing hate, outraging people so they spread your message to the small, diffused minority of broken people who welcome your message and would otherwise be uneconomical to reach.
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Because everything is awful, 'Fake News' is 2016's word of the year

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After a conspiracy theory about Hillary Clinton running a child sex ring inside a Washington D.C. restaurant resulted in a North Carolina man taking a gun in to “investigate,” it seemed inevitable that “fake news” would define 2016.

And now it’s official, with the word being chosen as Macquarie Dictionary’s word of the year. If you don’t laugh, you might cry.

Pronounced “fayk ‘nyoohz” (for those of you who just returned from Mars), the word became notorious after debates about bogus websites publishing false or hyper-partisan news on social media blew up in 2016. America is now learning what it’s like to deal with a political administration that routinely spreads fake news itself. Read more…

More about Words, Enby, Halal Snack Pack, Fake News, and Macquarie Dictionary

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Crunch Report | Sprint Takes 33% Stake in Tidal

Sprint takes a 33% stake in Tidal, The SEC is investigating Yahoo, a study from Cambridge on vaccinating fake news, Apple fixes more MacBook Pro bugs and a big Snapchat redesign hits iOS. All this on Crunch Report. Read More

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Alien coffins, Donald Trump, and Herman Munster

What do Charles Manson and O.J. Simpson have in common? Both plan to come back from the dead, according to this week’s fact-challenged tabloids.

Mass killer Manson is “using voodoo to live again and get revenge” claims the ‘Globe.’ Inspired by allegations that Manson has been sticking pins in voodoo dolls of his enemies, the ‘Globe’ alleges that “Manson’s most chilling plan is to use voodoo to turn himself into a zombie, a walking dead man, after his demise, so he could continue taking revenge on the world!”

O.J. Simpson evidently plans a more exulted route to life after incarceration. “Tell them to expect me like they’re expecting Jesus to come back – because I’m coming,” reports the ‘National Enquirer.’

One thing is certain: If both men get to walk the Earth again it won’t be long before Ryan Seacrest Productions combines them for one hell of a reality TV show. Or maybe ‘Lifestyles of the Undead & Famous?’

I really need to tell any tabloid Editors out there: This word “Exclusive” – You keep using that word. It does not mean what you think it means.

Just look at that blurred, fuzzy photo purporting to be Charles Manson in a hospital bed, beneath the headline “Another Enquirer Exclusive – The Photo That No Other Publication In The World Could Get!”

It’s not such a singular sensation when the ‘Globe’ publishes the same photo on its cover, beneath the headline “World Exclusive.”

Or how about the ‘Globe’ offering its “Exclusive Interview & Photos” of actress Shelley Duvall living in what appears to be reduced circumstances on a ranch in Texas? How does that compare with the ‘Enquirer Exclusive” interview and photos of Shelley Duvall at her ranch in Texas?

Does “Exclusive” mean “Everyone has this”? Or is it just another example of Trumpian Newspeak?

Questionable headline of the week comes courtesy of the ‘Globe’: “Jane Fonda Boots Sickly Toy Boy, 74!” If there is ever a statute of limitations on the age limit for describing a lover as a “toy boy,” surely 74 has to be several decades in excess of that mark.

Two competing figurines offered for sale in this week’s ‘Globe’ also present its readers with a quandary. Do they buy the “President Donald Trump Commemorative Tribute” limited-edition figurine unveiled for the first time, “hand-crafted, hand-painted” and seven inches tall depicting a dark-suited Trump raising his right hand in a wave? Or do they opt for the 17-inch sculpted figurine of Herman Munster, dark-suited and waving his right hand – and playing the ‘Munsters’ theme tune at the push of a button? The Munster figurine promises his “sculpted hair” and “ghoulish shade of green” skin, while the Trump figurine offers his unnaturally glowing flesh tones and equally sculpted hair. Herman Munster costs $139.99, while the Trump figurine costs only $49.98 but plays no songs at all. The Trump figurine doesn’t even build a small wall around itself, which may disappoint many fans. I’d love to know which sells best.

“Princess Kate’s Secret Bulimia Battle” might be a better exclusive in the ‘Enquirer’ if they hadn’t reported on her alleged eating disorder so many times before. Singer Kenny Rogers’ “cancer nightmare” revealed in the ‘Globe’ might also seem a little fresher if they hadn’t accompanied the story with a photo Rogers posted on social media explaining that he had cancer back in 2014, when he had skin cancer removed from his face.

The ‘National Examiner’ brings us the oldest story in this week’s tabloids, however – more than 460 years old, to be precise – reporting Nostradamus’s predictions for 2017. The 16th century French physician and tabloid favorite predicted nuclear war, a giant planet approaching Earth, the largest earthquake ever to hit the U.S., the growth of solar power, a truce between Ukraine and Russia, and commercial space travel in orbit around Earth for the year ahead. But good luck finding mention of any of these things if you go searching through anything Nostradamus actually wrote.

Fortunately we have the crack investigative team at ‘Us’ magazine to tell us that Kenya Moore wore it best, Rachel Bilson carries crayons, Q-tips and her son’s Hot Wheels car in her backpack, and that the stars are just like us: they shop for shoes, eat finger foods, and feed parking meters. Riveting revelations, as always.

‘People’ devotes its cover story to America’s “Daughter in Chief,” Ivanka Trump, an incredibly sycophantic piece of pablum that looks at “her gorgeous D.C. home,” her “daily talks with her dad (she speaks her mind!)” and how she plans on “raising kids and working in the White House.” With no hint of irony ‘People’ reports that as one of Trump’s most trusted advisers Ivanka will “push a female-centric agenda.” She tells the mag: “I’m a huge advocate for women and women’s issues, like child care.” Because when issues of abortion rights, equal pay, sex discrimination and a woman’s right to control her own body are at issue, America’s women need a pampered millionairess fighting to make them better care-givers.

The big mystery of the week, however, is posed by the ‘National Examiner,’ which reports that “Ancient Egyptian Tombs Hold Alien Coffins!” Two dozen large granite boxes, carved to a degree of precision that suggests alien manufacture to any self-respecting tabloid reporter, are thought by Egyptologists to be the intended last resting place for mummified bulls. But “UFO theorists,” who I suspect are a lot more fun at parties than Egyptologists, “say the boxes may have been intended to hold the remains of the aliens who directed their construction, but that the aliens left Earth before they died.”

I’d be much more impressed if they opened these ancient granite sarcophagi and found a Trump figurine inside one, and a musical Herman Munster figurine inside another. Nostradamus probably saw that coming a mile away.

Onwards and downwards . . .

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Obviously fake “paid protester” site sets right wing media aflutter

Demand Protest, a service that bills itself as providing “deliver[ing the appearance of rage] at scale while keeping your reputation intact” purportedly pays protesters $2500/month plus $50/hour for left-wing protesters to take to the streets, and claims to have run 48 campaigns, despite having only registered its domain last month (it also displays a copyright notice that spans 2015-2017).
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The BBC sets up a taskforce to fight back against fake news

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The uphill battle against fake news (and correctly using the term “fake news” in the first place) continues. The latest effort to debunk made-up information is British broadcaster BBC.

On Thursday, The Guardian reported the BBC was forming a debunking team to tackle false stories that often start on Facebook and other social media outlets.

This means segments such as the outlet’s Reality Check will become more than an occasional feature, but a persistent effort with a team tackling incorrect stories, posts and information.

The amount the NHS in England is getting from the government is at the bottom end of the range that it asked forhttps://t.co/gyWvoK8YMn pic.twitter.com/PQbPi47cdp

— BBC Reality Check (@BBCRealityCheck) January 12, 2017 Read more…

More about Media, Bbc, Fake News, and Business

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“Crooked Hillary will die in jail!” and other tabloid stunners

You pays your money and you takes your choice with this week’s tabloids.

“Crooked Hillary Will Die in Jail!” screams the ‘Globe’ cover, with a two-page exclusive inside predicting “Hillary’s Prison Death Sentence!” You have to admire the Photoshopped picture of an ashen-faced Hillary, dark bags around her eyes, care-worn face furrowed with wrinkles, clad in an orange jumpsuit behind  grey metal prison bars. It’s harder to be impressed by the “new evidence that will put her away!” which supposedly will be supplied by former president Bill Clinton when he testifies before the Eastern District of New York grand jury investigating the Clinton Foundation — testimony which he may never give. And that “death sentence”? That’s simply the ‘Globe’ anticipating that “Bill’s testimony sends her away for 20 years,” and with her “killer medical ailments, even a 10-year stretch would be a death sentence.”

But if you believe the ‘National Enquirer’ — and who wouldn’t? — the future looks rosy for Hillary Clinton, who it forecasts could be the next Mayor of New York City. It “Could Happen” assures the ‘Enquirer,’ which calls her mayoral election “easy pickings.”

Singer George Michael “turned to booze and drugs” after his voice was “destroyed” by pneumonia in 2011, leading to his tragic demise, reports the ‘Globe.’

Or you can believe the ‘Enquirer,’ which insists: “Blackmail Demands Drove George To Suicide!” Supposedly Michael was “driven to suicide by sinister blackmail threats from a train of male lovers in his life.” It’s a typically homophobic allegation that makes little sense for a man who was openly and proudly gay, and had little to fear from exposure.

How about J. Lo’s blossoming romance with hip-hop star Drake? “Wedding Bells for J Lo & Drake!” predicts the giddy ‘Globe,’ whose unnamed source says of their passion: “It’s for real — and it’s only getting stronger!”  Or if you prefer, believe the ‘Enquirer’ which has unnamed “pals” wanting J Lo that she is “Courting Danger With Drake!” As one “source close to the singer” opines: “Drake is the poster boy for problems she really doesn’t need.”

At least the tabloids can agree on one thing: the universe is dangerous, and it’s out to get us. “E.T. Is Calling! But top scientists warn us: Don’t Answer The Phone!” reports the ‘Globe.’ Evidently “astronomy experts” have warned: “Earthlings need to brace for a bloody invasion and start laying low.” How this failed to make the front page is beyond me. Did “Crooked Hillary” and Dolly Parton’s “Secret Family Shame” really seem more important than an alien invasion of Earth? Evidently. Meanwhile the ‘National Examiner’ warns of the “Universe’s Deadly Forces Set To Attack!” Watch out for dying white dwarf stars tearing apart nearby planets, rogue planets careening like pinballs through the cosmos, gamma-ray explosions that could cause mass extinctions, fast-moving black holes and destructive solar flares.

So after so much science, the tabloids feel the need to give us our regular dose of fact-challenged news too. Why are so few celebrities booked to appear at Donald Trump’s presidential inaugural celebrations? Not because the stars have shunned him, but because Trump reportedly turned down offers to appear by Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, the Dixie Chicks, Billy Joel, the Beach Boys, Blake Shelton,Gwen Stefani, John Legend, Ice-T and Celine Dion. Well, that’s one explanation for their absence.

“William & Kate Unfit to Rule!” proclaims the ‘Globe,’ allegedly reporting the sentiments of Prince Charles’ wife, Camilla. Firstly, let me point out yet again that Prince Charles is next in line to the throne, and William won’t “rule” until after Charles has died. But why does Camilla reportedly believe her nephew is unsuited to the throne? Because William’s children, George and Charlotte, are being taught Spanish by their nanny, and allegedly “speak Spanish better than English.” Even if this were true, having bilingual children should be a point of pride, not shame. And considering that George is all of three years old and Charlotte is aged only one, their vocabulary in any language is likely to be limited to the level of a seasoned ‘Globe’ reporter.

“Mark Harmon Heart Attack Horror!” reads a ‘Globe’ headline above photos of the NCIS actor looking spry and healthy. Evidently his father died of a heart attack at the age of 70 in 1990, therefore “pals fear” that 65-year-old Harmon “could be on his last legs!” Because that’s what pals are for in the world of the tabloids: living in fear for your life.

“Emma & Ryan Bonkin’??” asks the subtle, sophisticated ‘Enquirer’ of actors Ryan Reynolds and Emma Stone, who have co-starred in three movies, most recently ‘La La Land.’ “Secret Lay of La La Land!” adds the incredibly witty headline. Well, did they? No, reports the ‘Enquirer,’ resorting to what they assume is gossip-land argot: “Our delectable duo nevah, EVAH bonked in real life!” In other words, there’s no story, just a salacious and misleading headline. Classy. No wonder Trump loves the ‘Enquirer,’ saying that the tabloid “should be very respected,” and deserves “Pulitzer Prizes for their reporting.”

But has the Trump-loving ‘Enquirer’ become the official mouthpiece for the incoming administration? This week the rag predicts a “Secret Trump-Putin Summit’ within 45 days of The Donald taking office. Let’s see if they’re right. If so, the ‘Enquirer’ will have a source inside the Trump White House — perhaps Trump himself? — that any news organization would envy. If it’s true.

It’s a shame that this week’s tabloids were published just hours too soon to include the as-yet-unsubstantiated “golden shower” and Russian hooker allegations against Donald Trump — though the ‘Enquirer’ would probably call them part of a a Hillary Clinton conspiracy. Uncorroborated allegations are the stock-in-trade of the tabloids, but where Trump’s concerned they’re all lies.

Fortunately we have the crack investigative team at ‘Us’ magazine to tell us that Kendall Jenner wore it best, actor Charlie Weber “can’t start my day without an espresso,” that actress Archie Panjabi carries a mini-flashlight, coconut oil and dog treats in her Tumi tote bag, and that the stars are just like us: they buy veggies, shop in fashion boutiques, eat desserts and take selfies on the beach, all of which make me feel that I’m more like Meryl Streep than Donald Trump, who I’m guessing never takes beach selfies or shops for veggies.

‘Us’ brings us the “secret pasts” of TV’s ‘Bachelor’ show contestants, promising “the truth about Nick’s women” — “sex obsessed, fame hungry, ready to play dirty.” But doesn’t that describe everyone on reality TV these days?

‘People’ magazine devotes its cover to Oprah Winfrey’s revelation: “How I lost 42 lbs!” which would be all the more impressive if she hadn’t lost the same 42 lbs at least a dozen times before. “I finally made peace with food,” says Oprah, which is good, because it’s no fun being at war with your food. Let’s remember: Molotov cocktails were invented in retaliation to “Molotov bread baskets” which rained death and destruction over Finland during the Winter War of 1939 – 1940. Hopefully Donald Trump can negotiate a peace deal with Beef Strogonoff, and we can finally have peace in our thyme.

Onwards and downwards . . .

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How to think critically about news quotes from unnamed “government sources” under trumpism

As the Trump administration continues its twin trademarks of “not having press conferences” and “being at the center of gnarly scandals involving spycraft and hacking,” much of the reporting on what’s actually happening in the most powerful country on Earth is based on quotes attributed to anonymous government sources — people with something to say but who won’t let their names be associated with it.
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Six essays on media, technology and politics from Data & Society

danah boyd writes, “Yesterday, a group of us at Data & Society put out six essays on ‘media, technology, politics.’ Taken
together, these pieces address different facets of the current public
conversation surrounding propaganda, hate speech, and the US election.
Although we only allude to specifics, we have been witnessing
mis/disinformation campaigns for quite some time as different networks
seek to manipulate both old and new media, shape political discourse,
and undermine trust in institutions and information intermediaries. In
short, we are concerned about the rise of a new form of propaganda that
is networked, decentralized, and internet-savvy. We are also concerned
about the ongoing development of harassment techniques and gaslighting,
the vulnerability of old and new media to propagate fear and
disinformation, and the various ways in which well-intended
interventions get misappropriated. We believe that we’re
watching a systematic attack on democracy, equality, and freedom. There
is no silver bullet to address the issues we’re seeing. Instead,
a healthy response is going to require engagement by many different
constituencies. We see our role in this as to help inform and ground the
conversation. These essays are our first attempt to address the
interwoven issues we’re seeing.
(more…)

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