The real weakness exposed by fake news may be this: critical thinking skills.
Digital media has changed the game by speeding blatantly false information to millions in a matter of seconds, the eagerness of people to embrace “evidence” that supports their opinions, and the “monetization of viewing” that makes fake news lucrative.
Social media cuts the cost of a printing press or a broadcast station to zero. Today, everyone can be a tabloid publishing stories about politicians being married to 3-headed aliens.
But then the professor falls into the well meaning but logical fallacy trap of the appeal to authority:
“The problem is compounded by American anti-intellectualism that undercuts the value of conclusions drawn on the basis of professional journalism and expert studies.”
Which is saying professional journalists and academics should have their viewpoints heard above the viewpoints of others and should not be questioned by commoners. One need only mention two names to demonstrate the logic problem with this statement: Dan Rather and Brian Williams. Or read this to see a government-sourced data survey re-purposed into a false statement about hunger in the U.S. which is then promoted by experts. Or learn how The Guardian just published a fake news story that went viral – but contained manufactured fake quotes that were later retracted. (Does this make The Guardian an official “fake news” source? This is bad, really bad.)
A fact is true regardless of who makes the claim. Arguments rest on the truth of facts and logic, not on the person making the claim.
Proposals for addressing social media propaganda rely on the “appeal to authority” method and not on the basis of facts being true. Which turns anti-fake news approaches into fake news based on the logical fallacy of the appeal to authority.