As the concept and platform of “fake news” has successfully and dubiously dredged content from the drainage ditch adjacent to the information superhighway and rocketed the sludge into viral capacity, the future is now for the refined progeny of the insidious and misleading construct.
A new breed of super “fake news” sights have quietly bombarded the trending news matrices of the prodigious social networks, netting the founders a healthy sum of advertising-based ransom money a the expense of individuals and small business owners.
Buzzfeed informs the readers that “prank news” has possibly reached the apex of its shelf life in disseminating information that in theory is supposed to be outwardly disingenuous and entwined in humor, however at many instances has passed unchecked through the filter process. No, this is not the contrived television antics of Johnny Knoxville and crew in putting themselves and friends in dangerous and precarious situations. The joke went beyond too far in an outrageous and fabricated yarn profiling the customer retention tactics of a Popeye’s Chicken manager allegedly heedlessly mixing cocaine into the batter to combat stagnant sales. The online news vortex reports that the obviously false story on all accounts generated nearly 430,000 engagements on the social networking platform which rhymes with “place hook”. The ultra-successful spoof is just one in a series of incredulous stories that have breached the mainstream trending news cycle. In 12 months, the top 30 “prank news” outlets netted over 13 million interactions on the before mentioned social media leader.
Other than the obvious downside of misleading an already gullible audience lacking a perceptible comprehension in distinguishing fact and fiction, the real damage has come at the expense of those who have virtually no recourse in defending their reputation in the wake of a “prank news” terrible attempt at humor. Apparently, the trolls inflicted their careless will upon an Indian restaurant in claiming that the menu served human meat. While it is ultimately up to the individual to not jump to the stratosphere of conclusions, the restaurant and the owner experienced the tidal wave of a backlash in the form of negative reviews and loss of revenue. This small example of personal angst, is the tip of the iceberg of a much larger issue.
The business model for “prank news” is disturbingly simple. Author a call to action for dubious and humorous content in generating a paroxysm of short term laughter in dishonoring friends, family, co-workers or a business on multiple sites with legitimate names and build an interface to the feeds populating social networking. The formula is ripe for cyberbulling or worse. Since the content is not technically generated within a legitimate sharing and interactive site, one can see the headaches and difficulties of staunching and correcting any misinformation that is generated through the “prank news” server. Thus, potentially damaging information that would legally qualify as defamation, libel and slander in the real world with subsequent criminal consequences, is very difficult to prove in the cyber world and especially when dealing with a third party websites. The lack of empathy and accountability from those who have built “prank news” is astounding, through not surprising. The Buzzfeed feature gives a chilling insight into the mentality of those who are profiting from the damage to others.
“By the time they actually go check it out they’re gonna realize it’s all in fun,” (prank news site founder and millennial Korry Tye said). “Not everyone is as savvy as everyone else on the internet, but it’s pretty much there before your eyes.”
As the duties of the public information gatekeepers unceremoniously change generational hands, what sliver of hope does the world have for semblance of sanity and balance?
Read the Buzzfeed article here.