What’s even scarier, actually, is where these technologies and ossified worldviews will be by the 2018 midterm election, or the presidential election in 2020. At that point, one suspects, there will not only be thousands of fake-news articles floating around the Internet, but also countless fake videos and fake audio clips, too. If you combine those technologies with a president who is known to lie about even the most trifling matters, we won’t know what is real and what is fake any longer. If ever there was a time for the people creating technologies to keep in mind the impact of their creations, it’s now.
In a raucous election year defined by made-up stories, Mr. Harris was a home-grown, self-taught practitioner, a boutique operator with no ties to Russian spy agencies or Macedonian fabrication factories. As Mr. Trump takes office this week, the beneficiary of at least a modest electoral boost from a flood of fakery, Mr. Harris and his ersatz-news website, ChristianTimesNewspaper.com, make for an illuminating tale.
With Mr. Obama now warning of the corrosive threat from fake political news circulated on Facebook and other social media, the pressing question is who produces these stories, and how does this overheated, often fabricated news ecosystem work?
These Macedonians on Facebook didn’t care if Trump won or lost the White House. They only wanted pocket money to pay for things—a car, watches, better cell phones, more drinks at the bar. This is the arrhythmic, disturbing heart of the affair: that the internet made it so simple for these young men to finance their material whims and that their actions helped deliver such momentous consequences.
A BuzzFeed News analysis found that top fake election news stories generated more total engagement on Facebook than top election stories from 19 major news outlets combined.
Social media networks like Facebook and WhatsApp are being used to spread fake news stories in Kenya—less than three weeks before the country holds a tightly-contested general election. The prevalence and impact of fake news are also becoming a question of concern for political campaigners, journalists, government officials, and companies like Google.
A fake news story led to threats of nuclear war between Pakistan and Israel on Christmas Eve. Pakistan Defense Minister Khawaja Asif responded to the fake news article on his official Twitter as if it were real.