Facebook has become synonymous with fake news; known for celebrity death hoaxes, click-bait, and the accusation that the site influenced the 2016 U.S. presidential election. President Donald Trump has continued the trend on Twitter and in his press conferences.
A study released in May 2016, by the Knight Foundation and the Pew Research Center, reported that 64 percent of Americans and 66 percent of users, read their news only on Facebook. It became clear that the social media site was aware of their readership when they hired people to write content for their “trending topics” section.
Facebook is the most popular media site to read top news articles. Young, passionate users share the stories with headlines that incite a strong negative or positive response. The sharing causes the information to spread quickly and can be dangerous if the information is false.
Who Has the Responsibility to Report the Truth on Social Media?
Eddie Cue, the senior vice president of internet software and services for Apple, believes it is the responsibility of the technology community to deter false news on social media. On Feb. 16, 2017, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, agreed that his platform should truthfully inform the community. However, the CEO is not focusing on preventing fake news but adding different viewpoints, more information, and fact-checkers to report the truth.
There is the belief that only trained journalists can report the truth for the people. Consumers, however, do not want to pay for their news. Zuckerberg stated that although it is important to give the people a voice, but dedicated people need to add new, fact-based information, and analyze news posts on Facebook. He concluded that the journalism industry will be supported while sustaining the social function of the site.
A recent study from Columbia University and the French National Institute showed that 59 percent of the shared news stories on social media is not read. This has created confusion for students, as the internet is the most common way to do their own research and keep up on current events. Among students in middle and high school, 82 percent of them could not recognize the difference between an advertisement, sponsored material, and genuine news.
On Jan. 16, Trump reported a new litany of false news to the media.
Alternative Truths From President Trump
His electoral win was the largest since Reagan.
Fact: 304 members of the Electoral College voted for Trump, which is fewer than George H.W. Bush, both terms won by Bill Clinton, and both of Barack Obama’s terms as president. When Peter Alexander, a reporter from NBC, pointed out that Trump’s claim was false it was dismissed by the president who said, someone gave him the information.
Trump said Hillary Clinton gave one-fifth of the country’s uranium to Russia.
Fact: Clinton was part of Obama’s administration when Russia purchased the controlling stake in the company responsible for 20 percent of the uranium capacity in the U.S. She was not accountable for accepting the deal.
The president commented that drugs were cheaper than candy.
Fact: Prices for street drugs are declining but not that far. A pound of marijuana dropped to $1000 from $2500, in 2016, according to Forbes. At $1000 a pound, it is $2.20 a gram. When compared with a six-pack of Snickers from Walmart, which is 53 grams at $4.27, making one bar $0.71. Snickers are still cheaper.
Trump believes that he accomplished more his first 27 days in office than any other president. Senior White House Policy Adviser Stephen Miller went so far as to tweet that Trump has achieved more than some presidents have done throughout their time in office.
Fact: The president has restored the Mexico City Rule, prohibiting the U.S. from funding family planning groups that offer information about abortion. He has put executive orders in place for the Keystone-Dakota Access pipeline project to begin and removed the country from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. None of these orders are clearly worded, according to members of his cabinet. Then there is the travel ban, which has been blocked by the judicial system.
During the first 12 days Obama was in office, he put 19 executive orders into place, including the Mexico City Rule, the establishment of tougher ethical standards for members of the executive branch, and he put an end to the torture of prisoners.
He also signed legislation during his first four weeks in office, such as the Lily Ledbetter Act. This law removed some of the limitations that prevent women from suing for unfair treatment in the workplace.
He also reinstated and expanded the Children’s Health Insurance Program providing coverage for millions of children in low-income families. The re-establishment of this program was financed by an increased tobacco tax, which also reduced smoking in the U.S.
Obama signed The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law to turn the recession around by making the economy more productive. This bill included investments in alternative energy.
Historically, Obama was unusually busy, but he started working with Congress, as the president-elect, by talking about his policies. This granted him a significant head start as the leader of the nation.
Trump has signed 18 executive orders and one is currently on hold. He is working on other legislation, such as tax reform, a program to improve infrastructure, and repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act (Obama Care).
President Trump stated that his travel ban executive order was “perfect.”
Fact: The ban created chaos and protests. Confusion and panic tormented travelers who were set to enter the U.S. Homeland Security did not receive notification of this order in advance and did not have any protocols in place. This is the executive order, which was put on hold by federal judges, on Feb. 9, 2017, due to legal concerns.
Trump signed an executive order that made Steve Bannon a member of the National Security Council (NSC). When the New York Times reported that the president was not fully aware of the order he signed, he took to Twitter. He tweeted that he makes his own decisions from collected data. He also accused the media of reporting false news.
Real World Consequences to Fake News
On Feb. 6, Trump tweeted that all negative polls about his presidency are false. He added that surveys taken by ABC, CNN, and ABC during the election were also untrue. This came after an International CNN/ORC poll released on Feb. 3, stated his 44 percent approval rating was the lowest, in history, for a new president.
The poll collected data from Jan. 31 – Feb. 2. The information showed that 43 percent of the people strongly disapprove of how Trump is doing his job, however, 78 percent of the people said he is performing as expected.
Fifty-six percent of Americans disagree with his policy on immigration and 53 percent are against the travel ban and believe it will harm the country by not allowing those from Syria, Iraq, Libya, Iran, Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen to seek asylum in the U.S. According to the president’s tweet, people want “border security and extreme vetting.”
President Trump and the Media
On Feb. 15, Trump tweeted that CNN and MSNBC were creating fake news stories and conspiracy theories. He wrote that it was due to the media’s blind hatred. This tweet came after news outlets reported that members of his campaign were talking with Russian intelligence, throughout his campaign. Moreover, the president accused members of the FBI and NSA of leaking information to the Washington Post and The New York Times.
The same day, Trump tweeted a thank you to Bloomberg View’s Eli Lake. Included in his thank you was this statement: “The NSA & FBI…should not interfere in our politics…and is [a] Very serious situation for the USA.” The article written by Lake stated:
The point here is that for a White House that has such a casual and opportunistic relationship with the truth, it’s strange that [Gen. Michael] Flynn’s ‘lie’ to [Mike] Pence would get him fired. It doesn’t add up.
Trump held a press conference on Feb. 16. Reporters described it as an “insane marathon rant,” and “a press conference for the ages.” Charles Gasparino, with Fox Business Network; the New York Post website; and Shepard Smith from Fox News made these statements.
The press was originally assembled for the president to announce the nomination of Alexander Acosta for labor secretary. Instead, Trump proclaimed the progress he made his first four weeks as president. Most of this hour-long talk was against the media.
He singled out CNN, The New York Times, the BBC, and the show, “CNN Tonight with Don Lemon.” He stated that The Wall Street Journal was disgraceful, due to a story published that day, which claimed that the president is not trusted by U.S. intelligence agencies and, as a result, they were with-holding information.
A reporter from Ami, asked about the rise in anti-Semitic attacks and the president told him to,
Sit down. I am the least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life.
Regarding Flynn, Trump announced that he was not bothered by his conversations with the Russian ambassador over U.S. sanctions. He stated that the General was fired because he misled Pence.
He continued the press conference stating that news outlets are reporting that his administration is in chaos. Trump believes the opposite is true, despite his struggle for Congress to approve his cabinet. The president called the media “out of control” and said “the level of dishonesty is out of control.”
When questioned if his calling stories that showed him in a negative light, fake news, was undermining American’s First Amendment rights, he replied that the people no longer believe mainstream media. He said he was not sure if he had anything to do with their disbelief but the press was untrustworthy.
American cannot trust reported news. People cannot believe printed news. Can the nation put their faith in a president who offers “alternative facts?”
By Jeanette Smith
Huffington Post: Trump’s Advisers Want You To Believe He’s The Most Productive President Yet. He Isn’t
Policy.Mic: Here are the 5 biggest lies from Donald Trump’s bizarre press conference
CNN/ORC International Poll: January 31 – February 2, 2017
Twitter: Trump slams recent Russia reports as ‘blind hatred’ by media
Nieman Journalism Lab: Nearly half of U.S. adults get news on Facebook, Pew says
The Economic Times: Fake news: Here’s why Facebook needs to tackle the problem, urgently!
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Daniel Arrhakis’ Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
First Inline Image Courtesy of Paul Sableman’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Second Inline Image Courtesy of Stuart Rankin’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License