I like to try and keep informed about local, provincial, national, and international news. It's getting harder and harder. Some breaking news and news items that pop up on a Twitter or Facebook feed are obvious fabrications but others are very well done. There are so many on-line news sources that keeping up with those that feature actual news and valid opinions is difficult. I would like to depend on a newspaper or two but they are struggling to compete on this new and tilted playing field. Separating the wheat from the chaff gets more challenging each day.
Television and radio news doesn't seem much better. So many lead stories on National News would be more fitting on Entertainment Tonight and occasionally after the news, the same celebrity stories appear on both kinds of programs.
On-line sites generated in places like Macedonia, Russia, Romania and the United States may even use website spoofing, where the site looks like a legitimate ABC or MSNBC news source. The stories and headlines will be written well enough that I can be fooled.
In December of 2016, one such fake news story led Edgar Maddison Welch of Salisbury, NC to drive to Washington DC to save children from Hillary Clinton's child-sex ring that she was running out of Comet Ping Pong Pizza. He went in with his A15 and shot it up a bit. No one will argue that IQ was likely to be Welch's strong point; he certainly overreacted but he did think children were in danger and now he faces criminal charges. He actually has his own kids.
I long for the simpler days where I could read The Weekly World News and laugh. It didn't mean to be anything but outrageous and entertaining with its stories of aliens and Bat Boys. It was no problem determining that the news wasn't true.
This brings me to Alternative Facts. There have always been points of view and news stories have always had a spin. If they didn't, sometimes the dry, hard facts would just be too boring or too brutal. I would like to think (Hitler and his Propaganda machine excluded), that modern politicians and journalists try to use some facts when talking about news or policies. It seems that's not necessary any more. If you don't like the facts or disagree with the evidence, you can change the truth by offering alternative facts. This is Kellyanne Conway's newspeak and she is Donald Trump's counselor. That she was speaking about attendance at the 2017 and 2009 inaugurations doesn't seem that important. That she thinks she can make something true by offering her alternative facts is pretty disturbing.
To end this rant, I am including a link to Facebook's top 50 fake news reports and a link to a New York Times study about how a fake news story can go viral. Disturbing, too.
Yes, I'm of a certain age but I'm pretty spry and like to think still smart enough.