In “Facebook and Google make lies as pretty as truth: how AMP and instant articles camoflauge fake newsplatforms like Google AMP, Facebook Instant Articles, and Apple News are also further breaking down the relationship between good design and credibility. In a platform world, all publishers end up looking more similar than different. That makes separating the real from the fake even harder.”

He continues: “Websites that operate on these homogenizing platforms, whether they offer real news or fake, exist under the same digital gloss no matter their production budget, which presents a problem for upscale publishers wanting to stand out … What happens when questionable news sources enter the walled and manicured gardens of Google, Facebook, and Apple’s proprietary publishing systems? An increasing volume of readers experience articles through these mobile masks. AMP now represents 10 to 15 percent of publisher search traffic, according to an October Define Media report … readers are left with the necessity of divining from headline format and copyediting alone if a publisher is pushing a legitimate story or promulgating an outright lie.”

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Today’s media consumer cannot trust the internet, its news, or networks—fake or otherwise. Given the wretched state of today’s internet, skeptical, self-aware interaction with digital data is a critical foundation for maintaining democracy.

A self-aware attention to the current conditions of the internet must become a most important self-evident truth to move forward. A very serious project of digital media literacy is critical for our democracy, and is a crucial place where scholars and our students, regardless of our fields, can make pivotal contributions. As citizens, we need to understand how the internet works—technologically, financially, legally, socially. We scholars and educators need to teach and learn how to better read digital media, to understand who makes it, owns it, and circulates it. We need to ask how and why it is structured and visualized as it is, and what truths and mistruths it states. We need to learn how and where to demand real and better news. We need to produce context for the rudderless fragments of information that circulate online, as well as the forums where we can share our findings, activities, and practices.

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