Jestin Coler says he’s producing fake news to “infiltrate the echo chambers of the alt right.”
Oh yeah? That statement is in itself a bit of fake news.
What’s the fact of Jestin Coler’s life? He produces fake news for the money.
In a microcosmic sort of way, this fake news business confirms a precept I’ve held for years: corporations are amoral. Because their sole purpose is making a profit. Bettering people’s lives or improving their workers’ lives or producing something that benefits humanity are not written into corporate philosophy.
I don’t say that pejoratively. It’s just a fact of life. And it’s not to say all corporations are bad. Many produce things that do benefit humanity, many are famously good to their employees. But nice stuff is not embedded in corporate culture. It may not be entirely anomalous, but being nice is not the corporate world’s raison d’être.
Making a profit is.
Let’s adjust that precept slightly: businesses that make money, no matter how small, are amoral if the individuals who create them are amoral.
Thanks to DailyKos, I found this excellent, thorough, clear-minded article from NPR about fake news. The writer, Laura Sydell, gives us a solid portrait of one of fake news’ successful purveyors, guy named Jestin Coler.
“The whole idea from the start was to build a site that could kind of infiltrate the echo chambers of the alt-right,” says Jestin Coler, whose company, Disinfomedia, is behind some fake news sites.
Here are two paragraphs telling you pretty much everything you need to know about the audience for fake news. (I’ve bolded the last sentence, because it’s my favorite; I got a solid snicker out of it.)
During the run-up to the presidential election, fake news really took off. “It was just anybody with a blog can get on there and find a big, huge Facebook group of kind of rabid Trump supporters just waiting to eat up this red meat that they’re about to get served,” Coler says. “It caused an explosion in the number of sites. I mean, my gosh, the number of just fake accounts on Facebook exploded during the Trump election.”
Coler says his writers have tried to write fake news for liberals — but they just never take the bait.
Now let’s travel with the New York Times to Tbilisi, Georgia:
A computer science student in a former Soviet republic found there was money to be made in mixing real and made-up stories, as long as they were pro-Trump.
Here are the first two paragraphs. Do feel free to compare the statements made with that bolded sentence up above:
TBILISI, Georgia — Jobless and with graduation looming, a computer science student at the premier university in the nation of Georgia decided early this year that money could be made from America’s voracious appetite for passionately partisan political news. He set up a website, posted gushing stories about Hillary Clinton and waited for ad sales to soar.
“I don’t know why, but it did not work,” said the student, Beqa Latsabidze, 22, who was savvy enough to change course when he realized what did drive traffic: laudatory stories about Donald J. Trump that mixed real — and completely fake — news in a stew of anti-Clinton fervor.
Bottom line: liberals are not fools.