In “All I Know Is What’s on the Internet: Information literacy is not the antidote to fake news, because the institutions for teaching it can’t be trusted either,” Rolin Moe writes:

If we can blame fake-news makers for the Trump presidency and other social ills, then we can continue to deny this wider complicity in developing a society that promises knowledge as power, but primarily treats information as an economic resource. Fake news is just squatting in one part of one building in an entire landscape of neglect and corruption; evicting them will make no difference to the blight. Fake news is a convenient framing that sets the stage for feel-good, ultimately escapist solutions. One such solution is “information literacy,” which is being proposed by many educators as the antidote to fake news.

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Google and Facebook Can’t Just Make Fake News Disappear.” Dana boyd writes:

The puzzles made visible through “fake news” are hard. They are socially and culturally hard. They force us to contend with how people construct knowledge and ideas, communicate with others and construct a society. They are also deeply messy, revealing divisions and fractures in beliefs and attitudes. And that means that they are not technically easy to build or implement. If we want technical solutions to complex socio-technical issues, we can’t simply throw it over the wall and tell companies to fix the broken parts of society that they made visible and helped magnify. We need to work together and build coalitions of groups who do not share the same political and social ideals to address the issues that we can all agree are broken.

then attend to The Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism recent report, “The Platform Press: How Silicon Valley Reengineered Journalism,” by Emily Bell and Taylor Owen, who explain:

The recent push to develop tools for flagging misinformation and digital literacy campaigns are important initiatives and signal that platform companies are beginning to engage with problems they have long avoided. These efforts will make a tangible difference to the quality of information shared on digital platforms and will help citizens responsibly engage with the false information that will always get through. But these types of initiatives are limited by their detachment from the structural problems inherent in the platform ecosystem. Namely, the near dominance of Silicon Valley ideology, the pernicious effect of adtech economics, and the opacity of automation.
and one key finding:
The “fake news” revelations of the 2016 election have forced social platforms to take greater responsibility for publishing decisions. However, this is a distraction from the larger issue that the structure and the economics of social platforms incentivize the spread of low-quality content over high-quality material. Journalism with high civic value—journalism that investigates power, or reaches underserved and local communities—is discriminated against by a system that favors scale and shareability.
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Geert Lovink shared this hardtruth with me from his yet to be published paper, “Overcoming the Disillusioned Internet—Discussing Principles of Meme Design.”

“There is a crisis of ‘participatory culture.’ Let’s look at the example of danah boyd [I, too, refer to boyd’s self-criticism of media literacy in #100hardtruths #18] and how she’s deconstructing the ‘media literacy’ discourse about which so many of us had high hopes. A cynical reading of the news has overshadowed critical capacities. In the aftermath of Donald Trump’s election, she asked if media literacy has backfired. Have trolling, clickbait, and fake news undermined the classic belief in the democratization of news production? Whereas, for the pre-internet babyboom generation, literacy was synonymous with the ability to question sources, deconstruct opinions, and read ideology into quasi-neutral messages, the meaning of literacy has shifted to the ability to produce one’s own content in the form of responses, contributions, blog postings, social media updates and images uploaded to video channels and photo-sharing sites. The shift from critical consumer to critical producer came with a price: information inflation (the well-meant prosumer synthesis never materialized). According to boyd, media literacy has come to resemble a distrust of media sources, and no longer fact-based critique. Instead of considering the evidence of experts, it has become sufficient to bring up one’s own experience, thus leading to a doubt-centric culture that can only be outraged and incapable of reasonable debate, a polarized culture that favors tribalism and self-segregation.”

image by Montclair State University

“The current situation demands a rethinking of the usual demands of activists and civil society players with regard to ‘media literary.’ How can the general audience be better informed? Is this an acurate diagnosis of the current problem in the first place? How can holes be made in the filter bubbles? How can Do-It-Yourself be a viable alternative when social media are already experienced in such terms? And can we still rely on the emancipatory potential of ‘talking back to the media’ via the familiar social networking apps? How does manipulation function today? Is it still productive to deconstruct The New York Times (and its equivalents)? How might we explain the workings of the Facebook newsfeed to its user base? If we want to blame algorithms, how can we translate their hidden complexity to large audiences? A case in point might be Cathy O’Neil’s Weapons of Math Destruction, in which she describes how ‘ill-conceived mathematical models micromanage the economy, from advertising to prisons.’ Her question is how to tame and, yes, disarm dangerous algorithms.

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