David Brock of the left-wing group Media Matters has claimed that his organization is working with Facebook to help them filter “fake news” from news feeds. He wants internet platforms such as Facebook, Google, and others to remove sites and sources which his organization characterizes as “fake news sites and propagandists.” This is a predictable move for Brock since Media Matters’ business model depends on it staying relevant. At a time when many even in the Democratic Party are questioning that relevance, Brock is trying to position his organization as an authority on what is and isn’t fake news.
Both Google and Facebook have recently begun steps to filter out “fake news” and their originating sites, either in response to Media Matters or due to pressure from other parties. The problem with this approach, however, stems from the fact that many people rely on Google searches and Facebook feeds for information and news. Allowing these sites to be the arbiter of what is and is not newsworthy or authoritative is alarming for a number of reasons.
For one, the end result of their filtering tends to be that news favored by left-leaning groups or the traditional news media (which is also politically to the left) gets labeled as “real news,” while stories which deviate from the accepted leftist narrative are labeled as “fake news.”
In addition, the current propensity to label things as “fake news” is a symptom of a larger problem within our society. Over the past few years we have gotten to a point in this country where many people are incapable of debating their political differences politely and reasonably. They either engage in ad hominem attacks, riot in the streets, or simply block information with which they disagree.
Finally, those who are helping determine what is “true” have obvious conflicts of interest. Left-wing groups such as Media Matters want to further their narratives while the traditional news media seeks to protect their business from bloggers and new media sites. These new sources of information also often express conservative viewpoints, making natural allies of Media Matters and traditional media.
Within this environment, then, it is not surprising that President Trump continues to bypass the traditional media and go directly to the American people through means such as Twitter. The American people, for their part, will continue to seek out alternatives to traditional media if they perceive that they are filtering the news to fit a certain agenda. Thus, the media and political left have themselves to thank for the rise of alternative news sources.