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The Lighter Side of ‘Fake News’

There's nothing more serious to me than the fight against misinformation.

Innocent journalists are going to jail for doing their job. Elections and democracy itself are being compromised. The very notion of “Trust” is under attack, and it seems like the attackers are winning.

This needs to get fixed.

Serious people need to have solemn and clear-headed conversations and work very hard to fix what's been broken on our watch.

But do we have to take ourselves seriously every moment we are at work?

I sure hope not.

So, with this post, I begin what I hope will be a series of posts taking a look at the lighter side of fake news.

Today’s installment:

The World Cup of Information Warfare?

Inspired by an interview from Alex Stamos with CNN:

 

Nobody knows more about this than Alex, and he’s highly respected. (And I personally find it a bummer that he’s out of the trenches and is now an academic.)

But it got me thinking: Are the U.S. Elections really the World Cup of  Information Warfare?

I mean, he is talking very specifically about the U.S. Elections, and the US didn’t even get into the last actual World Cup. Americans are famously blasé about soccer, so making that analogy here may actually minimize what a big deal misinformation is. 

So, with all due respect to Alex, here’s a better breakdown:

Misinfo Category Sports Analogy Reason
U.S. Election Misinformation Super Bowl While it seems like there is actual competition, at least recently there really isn't. Everyone knows the team coached by Bill Belichick will win, and that he will cheat.

Similarly, everyone knows that the Russians cheated in trying to influence the U.S. elections. But in this case because of their influence, the one person who might stop the cheating is now in charge, so nothing will happen.
U.S. Election Hacking World Series of Poker This is different than misinformation, this is actually trying to manipulate votes. Anyone can get in, anyone can win.
Spammy “News” Olympics Much as with Olympic teams made up of people without much of an actual connection to the country they compete for, there are spammy operators all over the world pretending to be from somewhere else.

And there are so many different forms of competition that nobody can keep them all straight.

And just as we all know about, say Michael Phelps or the time that Google News showed a story about how Las Vegas Shooter Was a Rachel Maddow Fan, most of these competitors toil in obscurity. (Bonus: Just as with the actual Olympics, we know the Russians will cheat.)
People Claiming
“Fake News”
WWE  People who believe a politician who claims that stories he doesn't like are “fake” are the same people who believe Pro Wrestling is not fake. (By the way, it is not fake to report that Donald Trump is in the WWE Hall of Fame.)

  Trump-wrestlemania