“’We’re not in the business of publishing hoaxes,’ BuzzFeed’s news editor wrote in response to Weigel’s piece, “and we feel an enormous responsibility here to provide our readers with accurate, up-to-date information”—which sounds a bit like Altria’s health inspector saying they’re sorry they gave you cancer…
[There] is a common refrain—Yeah, but they do some good long-form journalism. And it’s true, I’ve read some good reporting out there—but on the other hand, after the Army blows up a village they come back around with a couple of sacks of rice to smooth over the damage. The fact is, you cannot justify quality reporting produced from the spoils of the opposite. Journalism does not provide for such leeway … At the risk of sounding like the boy who cried click-bait, I’m warning you: One of these days a viral hoax is going to come along that we really should pay attention to, and our guards will be down because we’ve become conditioned to lump all information together into the LOL and #feelings files. And one of these days a fake news story is going to have some serious real world consequences too, something like San Francisco elementary school that was widely attacked by people who’d mistook a satirical article in National Report about a student who was suspended for wishing a Merry Christmas to an atheist teacher.”
From Luke O’Neil’s The Year We Broke The Internet in Esquire, an excellent take down of Upworthy, Buzzfeed, Viralnova and all the other click-bait sites that are pushing garbage to people who just blindly repost said garbage without fact-checking, doubt or critical thinking. If there’s any question as to whether or not he’s right, it’s pretty much summed up by the fact that people are STILL posting links to those thoroughly discredited articles on sites no one has heard of about how Fukushima radiation IS GOING TO KILL US ALL AND ALSO ALL THE TUNA AND THE GOVERNMENT AND MASS MEDIA DON’T WANT YOU TO KNOW!
Read the whole article, it’s worth it. Thanks to Patrick Baker for bringing it to my attention.