There’s a certain irony in the fact that as information technology has created a more connected world, we have all become a little less certain of the truth.
Of course, it’s always been the intrinsic genius of skilled liars that they begin with making their lie appear to be true and end with making the truth appear to be false.
That’s the insidious nature of fake news, as well.
Take a recently issued press release from the NDP. It claimed that the Green Party leader had stated that the party was open to putting the Conservatives in power. The truth was, of course, far more nuanced. Elizabeth May had stated she would work with any party with a climate change plan; arguably not the Conservative party’s strong suit. The claim was, at a minimum, misleading.
For their part, the Conservatives recently got into the game when a B.C. riding association posted a meme that showed comedian Rick Mercer rooting for the Conservative party. It was discovered to be a doctored meme. The original had Mercer simply urging folks to vote. The Conservatives were called on the doctored message and removed it, but the damage was done.
In a far more subtle approach, it’s been reported that the governing Liberals paid more than a half-million dollars to a national broker who, in turn, distributed “news stories” that had, in fact, been written by communications staff in government departments and agencies. These ghostwritten missives, it’s alleged, were more promotion than information but nonetheless presented themselves as news.
And then we have the fake postings that are just silly.
The Green Party doctored a photo of their leader so that the beverage container she was holding became a reusable cup with a metal straw. It was foolish and unnecessary, but still dishonest, and put every other picture the party has released in doubt.
All of this has made the media’s job much harder and recently led News Media Canada, of which Black Press is a member, to launch a media literacy tool to help us all spot the lies that infest the information world.
It’s a good start, but the truth is that everyone’s responsibility to become better at spotting lies and liars.
False reports have the capacity to lead us astray and leave us doubting everything we see and hear. Inevitably that results in a less informed society.