tv Social Media False Information - Panel 2 CSPAN July 10, 2018 5:25am-6:32am EDT
and, our university has a plan. we are committed to that plan and investing in that plan to build our people and strengthen our future so we are more competitive nationally and internationally, as we look to the next century. >> be sure to join us july 21 and 22nd, when we will feature our visit to alaska. what alaska weekend on cspan , cspan .org, or listen on the cspan radio app. >> we continue now with the brookings institution look at state news with a panel discussion on the spread of misinformation in the media. this includes professors from harvard, the university of california, and the london school of economics.
>> thank you for being here. i am john seitz, a professor at the political science department at george washington university. my students talk when i talk. i am used to it. i am really gratified to have the excellent scholars to talk to us today, and to think about the spread of misinformation, beginning with amber winston, who is a professor at the university of california in davis. he said to me before we gather here today, i love being in dc, which made me wonder if perhaps you were not well, or something was wrong. the last time i was in davis california, it was 80 degrees and perfectly sunny. she is a scholar of media publications.
>> finally, rodrick farris who is a research director at harvard client center for the internet and society. robert has been involved in a lot of research projects, but one in particular that i've always felt valuable is a lengthy report about the nature of news coverage in the 2016 elections, indymedia ecosystem that was in some sense created in the context of the election, which you may talk about little bit about today. i want to turn it first to amber for her opening thoughts. >>, john. it is exciting to be here. i like to start in thinking about the spread of misinformation and disinformation reiterating a point that both jason and ej had a beginning, which is that this is not a new phenomenon.
it would be unfortunate, and a little bit ironic if we accidentally misrepresented or mischaracterized the prevalence in the criticality of misinformation. it has always been the case of the beginning of human political communication. we have used political information in order to try to share and promote our own views. that means it has always been the case because humans are fallible, and we have games of telephone, that we have had the spread of misinformation. it has always been the case, because there have always been political actors, among others that have had the spread of disinformation. it has always been the case that might fit -- misinformation and disinformation spread more easily than true facts, because they tend to be more salacious. it has always been the case that is all to easy for us to
believe selectively those pieces of misinformation and different -- disinformation that reinforce our own worldviews. there has been a lot of things that have changed. i do think it is important to take stock of the role of misinformation in our current political reality because i do think it has a greater threat to democracy than it has in generations past. lots of things have changed. we have this increasing spread of fragmentation of the media marketplace around the world, but especially in the united states. we have the strongest media marketplace competition anyplace in the world. that means that the news outlets of all stripes are increasingly needing to appeal to our preferences, three
things like click bait, to get house to pay attention to them, because they need our viewership. it is also the case that we have an increasing ability, as john mentioned earlier, to self select which pieces of news we want to get. it was the case in the 60s and 70s, that we all got the same news. it is no accident that it was during that period, that it was the lowest association between bipartisanship and our votes, when we were effectively on getting this information. it is also the case that we are increasingly polarized through the national politics. there is not overwhelming evidence that suggests americans at large are increasingly polarized. i went to add something that i have been thinking about, especially in my work with regina lawrence, and that is that we have more than ever before in human history, and increasing blurring of the divide between entertainment and reality, and therefore
between fiction and fact. it used to be the case not so long ago that there was a clear divide, you turn the system to walter cronkite for fox, and you turn to the lone ranger for fiction. it is not so clear anymore. we live in the saturated media environment. the saturated not just with things like him's and handmaid's tale, but it is also saturated with shows that are entertainment shows, but they look a little bit like reality. uses you can think of the colbert report, the various versions of the office. we also have reality shows. this increasing blurring of the line between entertainment and
reality, and we have also a president, from the world of entertainment, as previous politicians have done. but unlike previous politicians, he has not lost the trappings of entertainment, he still comports himself in a way that looks as much like an entertainer as it does a politician. so how are we in this kind of context to approach our selection and conception of information? i think especially for those of us who are academics, we have students in our college classes now who were born in the year 2000. they don't know a world before fox news, they barely know a world before breitbart, they don't know we were before twitter and snapchat, how are they supposed to know any -- navigate this world? this bleeding between fact and fiction in this entertainment saturated environment is affecting us individually at a
psychological level and collectively at a social level. that is the bad news. now i will talk about the good news, and the good news is, when i think about my students in particular, they are remarkably savvy, maybe because they grew up in this digital entertainment world, they are remarkably savvy, i don't know research that shows this, but anecdotally, they may be more savvy than us older generations at differentiating between the media that they consume. but largely, all of us are adaptive, we are an adaptive species and society, and democracy is an adaptive entity, and we can think of other parallels from past history, in trying to understand how we might navigate this particular type of situation. so i have been thinking about the potential parallels, and i want to float when here, it's
going to break down a lot of ways, but bear with me. i've been thinking about the parallel of processed food, it used to be the case that food was food, and we all ate food, and we went through this. that all the sudden we can't pronounce all the ingredients in the food that is available to us, in a grocery store, and at first, the general public i think wasn't aware from what i've read, of what was happening, but then we were aware, and we put policies in place to regulate the demarcation of different ingredients, in the food that we buy, and we have gone through different ways of public education and awareness about the food that we consume. if we think of a loose parallel about information, the diet, we can think going forward of potential policies that we could put into place as a government or society to help us regulate our information intake, but also in general, a
broader education campaign, to be more self-aware of what we are consuming. but like this parallel with processed food, we can imagine that we as a society are differentially able to adapt based in large part on our social economic status. not unlike the food deserts that a lot of people encounter, some people don't have the money to buy a subscription to the washington post or the new york times, they don't have the time to be self-aware of the kind of media they are consuming, so that is the part that, to bring it around to the sad news, that i am concerned about, is that we are not all going to be equally able to adapt to the shifting information environment. >> i did eat a lot of velveeta cheese as a child. it is still delicious. let me ask you this, a quick question by way of follow-up, this is a
thing maybe we can also talk about a little bit later in conversation, but one of the arguments that some scholars have made about the fragmentation of the news environment, or the media environment more generally, is that the consequences are not so much the self-selection effect in terms of i only want to consume news that is convenient to my partisanship or my ideology, but the bigger consequences that people are not really that interested in politics, and they now have many options, so you can turn on the news, you can turn on the tv at the newshour, and there is no longer any need to watch the news. you could watch a hockey game, that maybe others were watching last night, so do we think that one of the consequences of fragmentation is not so much making people become more intensely partisan, but making people become less politically engaged?>> that is true, that is concerning. the silver lining that i take
is that -- the work that several scholars have done on soft news, the fact that even if you choose intentionally not to turn on the news at night, and you don't read a newspaper, but instead you just watch daytime talk tv, and the morning shows, you are getting information, and it is still relevant about the world. would we prefer that people read the new york times and the russian post? absolutely. but we still pick up information in everything that we watch. but the flipside is that is concerning, because we are still picking up critical information about the world, even when we watch game of thrones, it influences the way we think about politics. >> thank you. in my remarks, i want to focus specifically on the role of social media in the spread of misinformation. we know that social media websites like facebook and
twitter are one of the most important vectors of political misinformation, but the technology that allowed opposition forces during the arab spring to start a revolution, are now giving a platform to conspiracy theories and actors that are speaking to many, about political agendas and their political or national interest. and attention to this problem spike during the u.s. presidential election, during which, quote unquote, fake news was widely shared with a large number of citizens. and at least in part by foreign actors. the data from the pew research center explored this information, saying this was universal, 75% of u.s. adults report having been seeing made of new stores online. some of my ongoing research has focused on measuring and understanding the prevalence of misinformation on social media, defined as new stories that
seem to present political facts that are demonstrably false or misleading. and determining what are the cognitive and psychological factors that explain why someone would decide to pick or share a false news story. and around this question, we conducted an analysis of new stories being shared on twitter during the 26 election. what we found was, it was quite shocking, we found that online websites, producing more disinformation, shared almost as often as all 16 of the most popular media outlets combined god new york times, fox news, cnn, msnbc. so in other words, false stories were shared at rates comparable to actual new stories by mainstream outlets during this period. are -- so there was as much information -- disinformation being shared is actual news.
but also true that not every user shared misinformation. we found significant heterogeneity, and the extent to which they were sharing the misinformation. the factors were age and ideology. the ages of 16 and more, five times more likely to share, false new stories -- 60 and more. young people are more savvy. the conservative users were twice as likely to share false new stories as moderates and liberals, this could be explained partially because there was already a higher prevalence of pro trump or anti- clinton new stories during this period, but it might explain why someone would click and share, looking at age and ideology. these findings align with the results of some great work by andrew guest, by scholars, who
measured the news consumption in general online during this period. they found that again, age and alignment between individual ideologies, and the leanings of new stories were the most important factors explaining why people were exposed to this idea. this evidence and other evidence that points in the same direction has provided new fuel to the debate on the internet and social media as ideological echo chambers, but that is already come out in the discussions today. the prevailing narrative put forward by the authors, is that online misinformation is currently being amplified in partisan communities of like- minded individuals, and these online spaces, false news go unchallenged, and parts -- in part, thanks to these algorithms that are finding an
independent voice. my view is that the connection between online echo chambers, the spread of misinformation is more nuanced than that. empirical studies of news consumption have systematically found that exposure to diverse news is higher in social media than other online or off-line news consumption. political exchanges much more frequent than commonly assumed, and just to give you an idea of all the put of the stories that the average person sees on facebook or twitter, something like 33% do not align with their prior political beliefs. and in fact, some of my own research has found that if anything, for most people, social media is actually having a depolarizing effect. in other words, compared to other types of news consumption, explicit to political consumption, it may be leaning towards ideological moderation.
why? increasing the range of views to which we are exposed. but to be clear, that is not to say that there might be some individuals that are fully embedded in completely homogeneous communities, we find in the research, there are groups of people that are in the online spaces, where agreement is basically the norm. for these people, we might expect to see some relationships between social media and the obligation of misinformation, but i think the empirical evidence clearly is telling us that the prevalence of ideological echo chambers has been badly overstated. that leads me to my main point here in my initial remarks, the mechanism that has been determinant in explaining the spread of misinformation on social media is not the existence of political echo chambers, it's the opposite. precisely between -- because social media is increasing exposure to political opinions across the aisle, they are now
being increasingly exposed to all types of ideas, that is going to lead to conspiracy theories, hyper partisan stories and political opinions. this apparent paradox, it's important to understand how specific social media features are changing the way we consume news. facebook, twitter, what they do is facilitate maintaining connections to both strong and weak ties. in the classical were, in the 1970s, strong ties are those with whom we have the most attractions, close friends, relatives, and acquaintances, and coworkers, etc. and of crucial importance, exposing us to new information, diverse views, right? this is what social media, i believe, represents a profound shift in news consumption.
when you think about who is delivering the news, our friends are delivering the news. the stories to which we are exposed in large proportion are being shared by weak social ties, which are likely to be more diet -- ideologically diverse. so when was the last time you saw a false new story in social media, who was the person that was sharing that story, would you have seen the story in the age before social media? for most of you, that person was someone that came earlier in the discussion, the political stories, that person was still probably hold the same beliefs, and the age of social media, but the differences now we are seeing it. thanksgiving dinners, exposed to an idea, now we get it all the time on our newsfeed. the broader point i'm trying to make is that if we are going to assign blame for the spread of misinformation, and find solutions to stop the spread,
we should look not only at features of the platforms, but also the broader news ecosystem. and the psychological factors that show how audiences select and process news. i won with this, it's important to understand the unintended consequences that certain interventions may have, if we want to increase exposure to the other side, it might increase exposure to conspiracy theories. in contrast, because false new stories are often engaging and we like them, they attract attention, if we stop continually saying we don't want false news, explicit to political information, but it might actually decrease, a lot of people only take on a political theory because it has something that leads to less political interest, engagement, etc. so this hypothesis is challenging, but these are the type of hard and uncomfortable questions that we should be asking ourselves in the digital
age.>> thank you . i want to say back to you what i think you just told us. >> [ laughter ] >> it is not a surprise to me as a social scientist, but i don't think it is fully appreciative. if i don't get this quite right, please adjust the terminology, here we go. most people do not live in a media echo chamber, and to the extent that they consume news via social media, they live in less of an echo chamber than people who don't consume news through social media.>> yes, to be clear, it is the case, that most of what the average person sees on social media aligns with their prior beliefs, but that data point is not relevant, we have to compare social media political consumption, and off-line. if you compare those spaces,
where people see the most diverse news is social media. >> in other words, most of what we think is true about echo chambers reflects an echo chamber of false news about echo chambers. can i get you to say one other quick statistic is a useful benchmark for us particularly living as we do in this wonderful city of washington dc? what percentage of americans are actively put your users?>> i think 50% or so. -- 15%. >> so 85% of americans are not twitter users. 85%. god bless america. thank you, john, great to be here, i really appreciate the opportunity to share some
of my work and ideas on this important topic. i've spent the past two years studying digital media, and u.s. politics, along with colleagues at mit, we build a platform specifically for this purpose called media cloud, what it does is it collects new stories and allows us to analyze and map those. we did that for the u.s. election and the year after, and a few things jump out. one of them won't surprise anybody, we have different segments of the media ecosystem, amber mentioned fragmentation, we see that, it is clear in our media ecosystems, we've known that from surveys in the past, conservatives trust one set of media, liberals trust another said, and our trends partisan sources of authority are an endangered species right now.
that is deeply troubling for everybody. the next thing that jumped out that surprised us is that these media ecosystems, as we map them out, are asymmetric. and profoundly asymmetric. what i mean by that is that on one side of the media ecosystem you have media sources that are in the center, center left, and left, that provide an integrated whole, they are interlinked, they cite each other's work, they are part of one media ecosystem, and the other side, conservative media has moved off to the corner, it is more insular, more partisan, and the connective tissue, the center- right, is stunted in u.s. media communications. and that surprised us. so we spent the rest of our time trying to figure out what that means. the me pause there and say that this observation is partisan,
it sounds partisan, and it is a little bit awkward in that, but that is not just cambridge, massachusetts speaking, the data actually are very clear on that matter. what comes from this is that we have different ecosystems that are structurally and functionally different. i want to explain how. so starting off by mentioning littman, and objective journalism, that is one universe. and objective journalist, they have a different relationship with politicians. one which is often adversarial, sometimes friendly, but often adversarial. partisan media has a different relationship with politicians, in that it is mostly friendly, in fact it is a must always friendly, and where partisanship and objectivity are at odds, partisan media almost by definition leans
toward the partisanship, and ends up with an adversarial relationship with objectivity and the truth at times. and it's obvious i think, but i think it is overlooked very often, that they are functionally and structurally different, and that what we have in political communication in the united states right now are functionally and structurally different media systems that operate by different rules. and i think that explains a lot of what we see in disinformation right now. and i think it means that any time we think about media and disinformation, that if we ignore that fact, we are going to get a lot of things wrong. so if you forget everything else i say, media ecosystems are partisan -- partisan, polarized, and deeply asymmetric. what this also means is, i think we tend to demonize
people on the other side of the aisle frequently, but i think the thing to keep in mind that this is that the behavior and the practices and outcome of media have very strong structural and functional bases to them. we may not like sean hannity, but he is almost inevitable as a part of this media universe. things that lead to success, the standards of success, and the motivations that drive people are different on both sides. and were not sean hannity, it would be someone else. and the roots of these things are structural, it's not personal, is not a matter of integrity, honestly -- honesty, but these deep ecosystems which have been decades in the making are producing these outcomes, and that's what we have to grapple with. i just want to one more thing by this lens, thinking about the sources of disinformation, in media, there
is a lot of culprits out there, there is facebook algorithms, crazy uncles, a little bit close to home, when you say bob, i am a rob. [ laughter ] media manipulators, click bait factories, a mix of commercial and political motivation to feed people partisan bs, they are out there, the russians, those kinds of things. but we see that they are interacting through these existing media ecosystems, and for me, it is less consequential the source of disinformation out there, then the ability of that disinformation to gain traction within media ecosystems. and what we have seen is that conservative media, because of the structural elements, is more vulnerable to disinformation than the objectivity fact-based
journalism that we see that is rooted in any decades of practice and behavior. -- many decades. that is kind of what we are looking at their. it means that we can be worried about russians, but the more important part is the larger media sources, and what they are doing with this information, and whether they are seeking to tamp down disinformation or seeking to amplify it and what they do, and that is what we saw in the past election, we have seen it over the past year, when you say you -- when you see uranium one becoming a big story, or the seth rich conspiracy, or repeated coverage of the deep state, going after donald trump, those are particular functional and structural aspects of conservative media, and we see it bubbling up on social media of craziness on both sides, and for me the more important thing
is how far does it get in? i don't know the evidence on this, but maybe some of the fine scholars will have an idea on this, but it seems fundamentally different to me, if you hear a rumor on facebook, and you wonder if this is true or not, we all know to treat things you see on facebook with a good degree of skepticism, but it becomes a different matter if you read it on facebook, it comes through email, you hear it on the radio, and then you see it on tv, that is a very different world than hearing it on facebook, and the near times telling you it is not true. the final point, we would like to blame a lot of the current problems on technology, and ej said at the beginning, technology is neutral, technology feeds through political and social processes, and if technology were the
problem, we would see these problems resulting in more or less equal measure on both sides, and we do not. so let's not point all fingers at technology, we need to be wary of it, and there are things that we can do to try to improve the way that social media is intermediating media, but our problems run much deeper than that. >> thank you rob, or uncle rob. [ laughter ] it might be useful just to -- without going too deep into the arcane details, to talk a little bit about how your mapping these ecosystems. so if you read the work that rob and others have done with the center, you have seen these maps, each media outlet is a circle, and the ones that are
more central to the network are close the middle, and the ones further out are more peripheral, and there are lines that connect the circles, and that matches the extent to which they interact with each other, so center left or left in one sphere, and write in another sphere, there is not a lot of ties that connect those two different networks from each other, so there are insularity's, how are you measuring -- what data are you gathering to map that network?>> 2 different measures which complement each other, there is no one single view of a media ecosystem that tells the whole picture. it is a little bit like the blind people in the elephant, describing a different beast by the way you look at it, one way is by looking at the interlinking patterns between media sources, so when the new york times chooses to link to the washington post, and not to fox news, or within the right-
wing media ecosystem, and less to the others, it creates a map, and what that map reflexes a media centric view of the media ecosystem according to the authors and editors of the media ecosystem. we have another map that reflects the behaviors of twitter users. so we leverage the proclivity of twitter users to share similar media sources. so we have 2 very different views of the media ecosystem, one based upon writers from breitbart, fox news, new york times, and the others, 80% of twitter users, -- 15% of twitter users, they have that area of media. >> you talked about the stunting of the center-right, can you give more detail about
what that looks like in your network map? and has anything changed from 2016 and 2017, in the way that these different media within the political right function? >> the center-right are people that get most of their attention from the right, but get some attention from the left and center as well. that is what defines center- right, the folks that are in that camp are the national review, the weekly standard, the federalist, a lot of them were trump skeptics, and never trumper's, and they were effectively sidelined in the 2016 election, as the partisan lines were drawn, you are either with trump or not, and the trump skeptics were not getting much attention from the left or the right as a result. that has not changed that much
in the past year. the partisan lines are drawn as cleanly and strongly as before. >> even with the decline of breitbart? based on the traffic statistics and other kinds of things, do you think it is a central node like it was in 2016? in some sense, it took the place of what you would normally ascribe to the center- right publications, the venerable national review after all. do you think that is changed? >> i want to harken back to amber's point about intense competition, a much stronger demand response and media, one of the factors that certainly lead to breitbart success during the election, was that they carved out a very strong early pro trump position, that fox news was not able or willing to make at that point. and i think what we see in this
changing prominence over time was that breitbart was sucking a lot of attention that fox news otherwise would have gotten. since the election, fox news is not conflicted about where the loyalties lie, they are not worried about rubio or crews any longer, -- ted cruz any longer, they have regained their audience in part because of that, that might also explain why breitbart has fallen in prominence. i would ask a question of all of you, and i want to harken back to ej's comments, in amber echoed this, none of this is new, many of these things are features of american politics. i would often go so far as to say that it is actually better
now than it used to be. better than the era of yellow journalism, we have a journalism that is not yellow journalism, that did not exist that it does now, and we have journalists that strive for objectivity that did not exist in a world where newspapers had partisan affiliations, and in earlier eras of american politics, explicit partisan subsidies, cash, given to them, from political factions and actors. so you don't have to agree with that statement by any stretch, but i guess the question i would like to ask is, what is the right way to put the environment today in context, and should we be comparing it to the 1800s? and then maybe we feel better? or should we be comparing it to like walter cronkite, and feel worse? it is an important question, because adjacent to this conversation about hashtag
misinformation, is a conversation about democracy in decline. in the united states and elsewhere. and there is a lot of emotion in that debate, that sometimes it feels to me to be fairly ahistorical, fairly like, what happened 20 mins ago is the most important thing that has ever happened in the history of american politics, but maybe i'm just being contrarian, maybe i should wake up every morning and be more alarmed every single day. how do we grapple with this question of, is it bad today, like what are we supposed to compare today to, in order to get an intelligent question -- answer to that question? >> i will start, yes, that is the magic question. it is all relative. i don't think i would say, just because i don't want to say, i wouldn't say that democracy is
in decline, i would say it is in flux, but it always has. we have always had to challenge some things. i personally, and also as an academic, am less concerned about the role of the misinformation that i am about the role of mistrust, and those are aligned, but they are orthogonal, they are different conceptually, the steepest, sharpest danger we face is that we are increasingly not trusting the government, or each other, but all of our friends that across the aisle, and i reiterate, signed shows that we are not in fact large becoming more polarized as citizens, but we are distrusting each other more. i think that is dangerous, certainly a reason for concern,
but as you say there are a lot of things to like about our current form of democracy and darfur that's current form of the -- current form of the landscape, citizens really do have more agency than they used to, but that is a good and bad thing potentially, but it is also a good thing.>> to me it is like a few thousand votes going in the other direction, would we be talking about misinformation? would we be talking about describing it as this, so stepping back, a perspective.>> there would be so many fewer brookings panels. [ laughter ] there will always be brookings panels. [ laughter ]>> i agree, misinformation is not it, but mistrust in the media, more general things, a crisis of method, science, or like the
media, or government, a crisis in terms of the way things are happening, the basic vegetables, journalistic standards, news outlets, they pretend to be very serious journalism, but in a way they don't follow the same things, in science, fake science now, and with civility, a crisis of not following the right standards, we should be focusing on that, and making sure that we follow the rules, and we don't get that taken away , by the moment in which we are living. >> i will agree with the panel, the thing that we should be concerned about, is the erosion of institutions that speak to everyone across the populace, and that misinformation,
disinformation is not unrelated, but is an underlying problem that we need to worry about. we are going to have a hard time comparing this to other things, it is new and different now, and for better or worse, social media and the internet, digitally mediated communication, has changed our world in important ways that we don't fully understand yet. i would just reiterate that it is a weird kind of transitional outcome now, that things look so different on one side than the other, i don't think that is permanent, but i'm not really sure what to make of it. but we can't go back to walter cronkite, that wasn't perfect either. there were catastrophic media failures at that time as well. and we have some more new and different catastrophic media failures ahead of us as well. >> can add something?
rob's work shows nicely, that the behavior of media systems is structural, rooted not in personality or in personal aspects, but in incentives, and institutions. but if we thought of a simulation, where all we do is we put in a set of incentives for a given news outlet, all we get is click bank, that is the natural conclusion of the tight of and sentence for new systems on the left and right, and the center. so i take great comfort in the fact that we have so much investigative journalism still today, that is not a product -- a product of professionalism and institutions, but not a product of the marketplace. and that tells me that there are still people, many journalists, who care about getting things right, and
getting things right not in a quick manner, but also consumers who are continuing to ignore the click bait, and pay attention to the deeper, truer stories. >> if i could add to that, we would be remiss to not mention the decline of local journalism. >> that should be the next panel.>> [ laughter ] >> we will take some questions from the audience, and amber gave us the wonderful metaphor of processed food. i'm going to steal that for years to come. so we all know that velveeta is not as good as kale, and we should all eat more kale, but i would kind of argue anyway, that
there are lots of unanticipated consequences, when we are trying to sort of put parameters on what gets published, or what people pay attention to, because for most of us, the more we consume, the more we consume, the more we get, of the bad, the more we get of the good. at the same time. so on the panel, is there a way to get us from velveeta to kale that doesn't end up with a perverse kind of consequence? raising the specter that we wouldn't get much information,.. we would become less politically engaged, and informed, because we are trying to avoid being misinformed? is there a way to thread the needle? >> i think we should be cautious about policy, because
policy is something that is much easier to implement than it is to take away, and there are all kinds of unintended consequences that we can see, i don't want someone to tell me that i have to be kale, for lots of reasons, i want to be able to make my own food choices, and that makes sense, but i what everyone to have equal access to kale if they wanted. and i want people to be equally available, equally able, to be informed, about the relative health benefits of kale, and jovita, in my mind, it is about information and awareness, on a citizen level, but i will return to the point about how i think especially because of the decline of local news, we are facing not just a challenge of misinformation and disinformation, but a disproportionate challenge of those things for people, for example, of lower social
economic status, so i don't know what kind of policy we could put into place, that it is hard to imagine a subsidization system that is something that would appeal to us in a normative way, i don't have a good answer.>> my answer is we don't know, but i will explain why. i think is a hard question, we want to implement a policy that will make fake news for britain, we control all the platforms, delete any fake news. first of all, what is fake news, we haven't really discussed it, but it is really hard to identify what it is. because in a lot of articles, there is some truth, hyper partisan, it might be true but misleading. so it is very vague. second, even if we make fake news for batum -- forbidden, there is a multiplicity of
forms, we are getting news and watches now, how do we come up with a comprehensive way of doing that? so the problem is also measurement, we don't know basic questions, what is the proportion of political news that we see, is misleading or false stories? coming out with potential policy proposals, we run into this road of all these challenges, and to understand that substantively. >> i agree, i can't imagine a policy prescription that would be palatable in the u.s. context at this point. anything that would try to limit the production and distribution of political speech, is kind of the third rail, and rightly so, i think we have a lot of things that we can and should try in the meantime to shore up things and that the roots of solutions are not in law or technology,
but are in politics. and that is where we ought to go. before that. >> quick on the draw. i am here on behalf of the nyu center for human rights, you mentioned that we should be concerned about russia, but really, and even in the last panel, we are here to talk about american misinformation, but how much of it comes from russia, and what is the responsibility of businesses to look at their model, and what they are profiting off of, misinformation, you said the solution might be in politics, but is there a solution for tech companies and media businesses? >> you got this. >> it is interesting, the
supply side, part of it is the financial incentives, this historical case, in macedonia, fake news speeches, making a lot of money, it also, russian propaganda, in many ways, difficult to identify, and politically motivated, so i think it is very challenging to come up with ways to find it, and a broader point is, all the discussion, fake news, in the u.s., but in other countries, we are worried about democracy, but in other countries we are worried about genocide. me and more in sri lanka, where it has been shared, and the political dilate, and also something that we should pay attention to. >> it is easy to imagine trying to prevent using all means necessary to prevent intervention in u.s. elections,
that doesn't bump up against first amendment protections, and ought to be pursued, there are limits, a few things that we could do, the honest ads act, which would require online ads to disclose who has financed those ads, that is a sensible idea, nuances and complications with any such things how do we know who is where, and what links do we go to document that is a hard question, the more difficult question is what is political and what is not, and where one draws a line around that. but i think that makes sense, and things can and should be done. i think social pressure on social media companies is appropriate as well. and again, it is a political, social solution to a political and social problem, asking them to do better in certain circumstances, it is not
government policy, not binding upon everyone, we would just have to muddle through, no easy answers to any of that. >> i will add, in thinking about potential russian interference, it is not that we have to look outside the country, for people with political games, to game the system, to influence people, just in these cases, there was an excess of resources, it doesn't make it a small thing, but it is an exaggeration of an existing problem. >> david? thanks, i tried to be quick on the draw. this is david barker, from au, mostly for everyone's new favorite uncle, but others can chime in, too, if you want to, i am very interested in the 2
media echo chambers that you described, that a lot of people in this room pet themselves on the back in terms of the center and centerleft echo chamber that tries to adhere to traditional journalistic standards, and the right wing, echo system, but i'm wondering if your analyses are recent enough, or if you're seeing any changes in the last year and a half on that? anecdotally, it feels like, when i watch late-night tv, i always see that stephen colbert got a lot more popular when he decided to go full throated against trump every night, jimmy fallon lost a lot of popularity when he refused to do that for time, and then has jumped on board. i pay attention to twitter, and also when i look at the headlines in my washington post feed in my inbox every morning, it feels to me like the
traditional center and centerleft is becoming a little bit more, the popularity of podcasts, it seems like a lot like political talk radio, so i'm wondering if there is any evidence again, that both on the right, that fox is becoming more like fox, but that traditional center and centerleft are also becoming more foxy? >> thank you for the question, it is a good one. so we have, kept tabs in the past year, and stephen colbert and jimmy fallon do not appear in our analyses. they are not getting the same traction within twitter and within the media ecosphere that mainstream media is. and wall street journal, new york times, washington post,
politico, the hill, they are, as they have been, a clearer focus than they have had in the past, but there are people in the room, and the people running these organizations, are still saying eat your kale, and insisting that their reporters serve kale. so i don't think that is change that much. >> you're welcome.>> the left is certainly more energized than they were before. there was an enthusiasm get prior to the election, where the partisan right was much more engaged with things, and we have seen evidence that has shifted since election. and i think that is partially reflected and stephen colbert and jimmy fallon, but i don't even know where to place them in the media ecosystem, they phoned the kind of entertainment, political kind of model that is hard to describe, and on the right,
things are as they were. if nothing else, right wing media is more unified than it was before, as it is not an election. any longer, the difference being that they are more on the defensive than the offensive as they were before. you do see a surprising amount of offense. going after the clintons, well after the election, is a sign of that, a sign of a successful way to do business and continues to be there. >> i think it is interesting that part of the asymmetry between the left and right media is not only the degree of network closeness, but also the nature. talking about how talk radio, almost exclusively on the right, and late night comedic news base shows are almost exclusively on the left. and that may be indeed exclusively for institutional
reasons, but i wonder. i think it is an interesting question. writing a book right now, at the university of delaware, the psychological links between conservatives and liberals in comedy, i can't wait to read that book.>> i would like to add, some of the research that i've done with some colleagues, we found similarities, between the left and right, and looking at things in the recent days after the election, the big movement has been seen in, from a relatively centrist position to the left. i think it is important to take into account what we think about these issues, one thing might be the average perceived ideology of an outlet, but also the range of views to which they give, the exposure to, cnn, giving voice to both sides, and msnbc, and fox news, may be
more extreme, but maybe only one side of the debate, more important. >> hi retired intelligence analyst, i want to ask you a question, you might be able to answer this, why can't we fight back, if we really want truth as opposed to fake news, we could do what the posted last week, a one page, you remember that, lou page unattributed, which makes me suspicious, i suppose i know who paid for, but we don't have to take this. do you want to find out what the truth is, you could go to a library, libraries are great. librarians are trained to show
you what is true, what is not, what can be a source of information, and this is something that you don't have to have the money to subscribe to all the newspapers and things, the journals that i like to subscribe to, but most people do have access to a library, could you all address yourself to that? >> this is something i wanted to ask, i will ask it the way i was going to ask you, the same point. when we talk about policy, and how do we fix this, we can't do very much, first amendment etc. or categorizing it as fake news, i think that is right. i guess my way of framing the question is, is there way then that the focus should be on what velveeta, the people who make velveeta, fine, how do we help the killed growers? that is a -- the kale growers.
the economics, the decisions that people may or may not make as consumers, but other ways that we might increase the ways to help to write for a publication that is now owned by a very wealthy man, it turns out that is a pretty good way to get money as far as i can tell. i'm not a paid employee of the lushton post, no conflict of interest. that is one way to do it. but are there other ways to strengthen ecosystems that are truth providers in ways that enable them to be a counterbalance to misinformation, a counterbalance to russian misinformation, a counterbalance to rank partisanship, or things that we might think is information that americans need for good citizenship?>> money goes a long way, and money to fund
more libraries, and better infrastructure and libraries, and money to fund all of the various news that lead to producing kale, that goes a long way, especially if that money, again, could go towards funding -- subscriptions to get through the pay wall for people who can't afford it. there are a number of newspapers that offer student discounts, that's great, but there are people be on students who can't afford it. the harder task is time. that is a different thing to ask someone to consume a newspaper article, even online, then it is to ask them to glance at twitter in the morning. it is just a very different task. and increasingly, as our economic workplace is shifting, it is harder and harder i think, again, specifically for lower social economic people, to ask them to take that time.>> i want to highlight the role of
civic education, i think like a lot of the pet is that we are seeing, are due to the fact that a lot of people don't understand that when they see something in social media or the internet, sometimes it is going to be false. there are people actively trying to mislead you for political reasons, developing a conscious that hey, think twice when you're reading something, look for the outlet, how to do that, not only to be taught in school, but in life. the role of age in explaining the decision, and the role of education, what the palace would think about that. >> that is the right question, and it has no easy answer. my sense is that it is the everyday work of building democracies that we have to reengage with, and that is everywhere from funding libraries and paying teachers better salaries, and buying
subscriptions to newspapers, and donating money to philanthropic organizations, are all the things we need to do, and we need to try to fend off polarization and partisanship, where we can. i think one of the big concerns is the encroachment of political life on all aspects of the collective endeavor, and that the more it gets politicized, the less likely our we to come to kind of a reasonable collective decision on things moving forward. >> we are going to take a 10 minute break and reconvene at 11:45 am, please think our panel for me. -- thank our panel for me.
the former head of the fbi's chief of counterespionage section, peter struck goes before congress on thursday, to explain fbi actions, leading the investigation into hillary clinton's use of a private email server on c-span three, online at cspan.org, and listen with the free radio app. the washington journal, live every day, with news and policy issues, coming up tuesday morning, ben rhodes, discussing significant political and policy decisions of the obama administration. then president trump's supreme court nominee, and pro-life
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