Article

The dangers of a post-truth world

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Abstract

The election of a ‘post-truth’ US president raises important issues for scientists. If rational arguments and proven facts cannot compete against demagoguery and scapegoating, how can we establish evidence-based policies to avert catastrophic climate change and other environmental disasters? Michael Gross reports.

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... Science is being marginalized and suppressed (Vernon 2017). Concerns are raised about risks of human endangerment resulting from the disregard of science (Gross 2017). Parallels are drawn between the dissemination and growth of Bfake news^and the spread of disease (Kucharski 2016). ...
... However, there is a surge in issues as regards the question of truth and reality that are presented by the emergence of fake news in the 2016 elections in the United States (Waisbord, 2018). It denotes new forms of propaganda; thus news and information are deliberately created and spread to trick or perhaps influence public opinions (Gross, 2017;Sismondo, 2017). Fake news is fabricated information which mimics news as well as affects the existing public beliefs and perceptions to influence electoral behaviours especially on social media in electoral contests in many countries (Waisbord, 2018). ...
Chapter
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This chapter investigates how, why and for what purposes political actors and citizens in Zimbabwe used traditional and digital media, especially Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter, before, during and after the 30 July 2018 elections. Relying on a combination of virtual ethnography and in-depth interviews, this chapter provides new evidence of the sophisticated appropriation of the hybrid media system in a context where over 60 percent of the electorate was made up of youthful voters. Building on Mare’s (2018) previous research on Facebook and electoral campaigns in Zimbabwe, this chapter cautions against the reification of digital media as the “silver bullet” with transformative power to democratize and transform toxic electoral politics in Zimbabwe.
... As outlined earlier, the 2016 US elections played an important role in the development and transformation of today's understanding of Fake News. It has been found that for the voters in the elections (especially those who voted for Donald Trump), verifiable and reliable facts get outweighed by emotional headlines and news [48]. Taken together, the emotional impact of Fake News should not be disregarded in the discussion. ...
Article
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This paper outlines the development of Fake News and seeks to clarify different perspectives regarding the term within Social Media communication. Current information systems, such as Social Media platforms, allow real-time communication, enabling people to produce and spread false information and rumors within a few seconds, potentially reaching a wide audience. This, in turn, could have negative impacts on politics, society, and business. To demystify Fake News and create a common understanding, we analyzed the literature on Fake News and summarized existing articles as well as strategies tested to detect Fake News. We conclude that detection methods mostly perform binary classifications based on linguistic features without providing explanations or further information to the user.
... Graduates also face what has been described as a post-truth era, in which objective facts have become less influential than appeals to emotion and personal belief (Gross, 2017). At the same time, 'fake news' is able to be rapidly disseminated through social media: amplifying the power of falsehoods or 'alternative facts'. ...
Article
Given global uncertainty related to rapid technological developments and the world of work, alongside other equally (if not more) concerning social and political disruptions – the assurance of graduate attributes of importance to employability and citizenship are arguably more important than ever. In this paper, we investigate three areas of practice by Australian universities, and non-university higher education providers who have been omitted from past analyses of this kind. First, we examine the graduate attributes most frequently published by institutions and discipline groups and whether emphasis has changed over time. Second, we investigate how graduate attributes are assured, including a scan of the inputs put in practice by higher education providers, and comparison of graduate and employer perceptions of achievement gathered through recent national surveys. Third, we connect our findings in the first two areas and make recommendations for the attributes needed to equip 2020+ graduates for citizenship and employability. Based on these analyses, we recommend that all providers, university and non-university, and the discipline groups within them: make graduate attributes more visible to the public and especially to students; continue embedding them in the assessed curricula, but also ensure that assessment is explicit and that attributes are communicated and explained repeatedly throughout the course; continue to use stakeholder perception measures, but more consistently align skills in data collection instruments to allow a more constructive comparison, and also draw on more objective measures such as actual assessment of achievement; continue to emphasise attributes associated with global citizenship, teamwork and communication; give more emphasis to independence, critical thinking and problem-solving, and the fundamental foundational skills of written and spoken communication. Most importantly, continue to revise the attributes regularly to ensure fitness for purpose in the rapidly changing environment within which we and our graduates operate.
... It has been recognized the lack of transparency and data accessibility (Levy, 2010) as pivotal causes compelling people, including scientists, to act dishonestly (Alberts et al., 2014;Head et al., 2015;Gächter and Schulz, 2016;Ariely and Melamede, 2016). For simplicity, let us define dishonesty or corruption as cheating and self-cheating that lead to the actual 'Post-Truth' Era (Gross, 2017). Scientific corruption can emerge in paper preparation or peer reviewing that clearly affects both the rate of knowledge and world development (see e.g. ...
... As outlined earlier, the 2016 US elections played an important role in the development and transformation of today's understanding of Fake News. It has been found that for the voters in the elections (especially those who voted for Donald Trump), verifiable and reliable facts get outweighed by emotional headlines and news [48]. Taken together, the emotional impact of Fake News should not be disregarded in the discussion. ...
... It influences an individual's decision-making and distorts one's perceptions about the real events by altering the information feeds that are utilized for news consumption. At the organizational level, the impact is more adverse as it poses risk to their brand names and can potentially affect on the consumption of their product or services ( Gross, 2017 ). News articles shared using social media further exacerbate this problem due to increased online media consumption and use of bots (e.g., twitter bots) that automate the spread of false information. ...
Article
Fake news is playing an increasingly dominant role in spreading misinformation by influencing people’s perceptions or knowledge to distort their awareness and decision-making. The growth of social media and online forums has spurred the spread of fake news causing it to easily blend with truthful information. This study provides a novel text analytics–driven approach to fake news detection for reducing the risks posed by fake news consumption. We first describe the framework for the proposed approach and the underlying analytical model including the implementation details and validation based on a corpus of news data. We collect legitimate and fake news, which is transformed from a document based corpus into a topic and event–based representation. Fake news detection is performed using a two-layered approach, which is comprised of detecting fake topics and fake events. The efficacy of the proposed approach is demonstrated through the implementation and validation of a novel FakE News Detection (FEND) system. The proposed approach achieves 92.49% classification accuracy and 94.16% recall based on the specified threshold value of 0.6.
... The self-selection of what media is a key challenge of ecopedagogical literacy outside of learning spaces with ever-increasing options to select media that 'fit' ideologies rather than listening to counterpoints. In addition, algorithms on social media's news feeds, such as on Facebook, purposely polarizes opinions by 'feeding' extreme one-sided post-truth news stories to keep people scrolling (Gross, 2017). ...
Article
A key aspect of teaching ‘development’ is understanding the conundrums and tensions between balance and imbalance with constructs of global (all humans, all societies, all populations) and planetary (all of Earth, including humans) spheres. This article deconstructs some key tenets of populist post-truth frameworks (termed as post-truthism in this article) as affecting how development and sustainability is taught within ecopedagogies and argues for structural grounding of ecopedagogical literacy within pedagogies as increasingly imperative. Rooted in critical theories and popular education movements in Latin America, through reinvention of Freirean Pedagogy, the literacy’s root word ecopedagogy is transformative teaching in which educators dialectically problem-pose the politics of socio-environmental connections through local, global, and planetary lenses. Without deepened and widened readings of development and sustainability viewed within both global and planetary spheres, in conjunction with development’s effects upon local societies and ecological systems, developmental actions are unsustainable and defies the definition of development. Discussed will be the ecopedagogical tenets, including emergent ecopedagogical literacies, of critical socio-historical analysis, local and diverse epistemologies, deconstruction of pedagogies on the environment, and problem-posing one’s and others’ livelihood to counter post-truthism.
... Oftmals werden Falschnachrichten so konzipiert und kommuniziert, dass sie die Emotionen und Gefühle der Rezipientinnen ansprechen anstatt Fakten zu transportieren. Während der US-Wahlen 2016 hat sich beispielsweise gezeigt, dass emotional dargestellte Geschichten gegenüber Fakten bevorzugt wurden (Gross, 2017). Auf der anderen Seite muss gefragt werden, wie viel EinĆuss die Inhalte der Nachrichten überhaupt haben. ...
Chapter
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This chapter provides insights into structural, argumentative and content-related patterns of German-language fake news. Available here: https://www.nomos-elibrary.de/10.5771/9783748904816.pdf?download_full_pdf=1
... Oftmals werden Falschnachrichten so konzipiert und kommuniziert, dass sie die Emotionen und Gefühle der Rezipientinnen ansprechen anstatt Fakten zu transportieren. Während der US-Wahlen 2016 hat sich beispielsweise gezeigt, dass emotional dargestellte Geschichten gegenüber Fakten bevorzugt wurden (Gross, 2017). Auf der anderen Seite muss gefragt werden, wie viel EinĆuss die Inhalte der Nachrichten überhaupt haben. ...
Chapter
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This chapter contains recommendations for dealing with fake news for citizens, media companies committed to the press code ethics, providers of systems with user-generated content, politics and legislation as well as research funding institutions. Available here:https://www.nomos-elibrary.de/10.5771/9783748904816.pdf?download_full_pdf=1
... Populist leaders like Trump pave the way for spreading truths that are far away from rationality. They play to the emotions of voters feeling, or being made to feel, like outsiders, which creates supporter for falsifiable designs (Gross, 2017). ...
... Oftmals werden Falschnachrichten so konzipiert und kommuniziert, dass sie die Emotionen und Gefühle der Rezipientinnen ansprechen anstatt Fakten zu transportieren. Während der US-Wahlen 2016 hat sich beispielsweise gezeigt, dass emotional dargestellte Geschichten gegenüber Fakten bevorzugt wurden (Gross, 2017). Auf der anderen Seite muss gefragt werden, wie viel EinĆuss die Inhalte der Nachrichten überhaupt haben. ...
Book
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Die Digitalisierung hebt die Lüge auf eine neue Ebene. Ausgewiesene Forscherinnen und Forscher legen mit diesem Band ihre umfassenden Analyseergebnisse vor, die sie bezüglich digitaler Desinformation in einem interdisziplinären Ansatz gewonnen haben: Was macht Desinformation im deutschsprachigen Internet aus? Wie wirkt Desinformation? Wie kann sie mithilfe technischer Mittel erkannt werden? Was kann und könnte mit regulatorischen und rechtlichen Maßnahmen gegen Desinformation getan werden? Aus den Erkenntnissen von Journalistik, Medienpsychologie, Informatik und Recht werden Handlungsempfehlungen an die relevanten Adressaten hergeleitet: An den Gesetzgeber, Presserat, Medienschaffende, Betreiber von Social Networks, Einrichtungen der Forschungsförderung und nicht zuletzt Mediennutzende. Dieser Band endet nicht bei der Analyse, sondern zeigt auf, wie die Verbreitung von Desinformationen über das Internet wirkungsvoll eingedämmt werden kann. Die beiden Journalismusforscher Prof. Bader und Prof. Rinsdorf recherchierten ein umfangreiches deutschsprachiges Sample von Fake News, das sowohl als Grundlage für die kommunikationswissenschaftliche Bewertung des Phänomens Desinformation dient, als auch von anderen Disziplinen als wertvolle Analysequelle und Forschungs-rohdaten (z. B. für maschinelles Lernen) genutzt wurde. Die Analyseexperten des Ibiza-Videos, Herr Prof. Steinebach und sein Team, beleuchten die technischen Aspekte von digitaler Desinformation. Prof. Krämer und ihr Team untersuchten Prozesse der Meinungsbildung in sozialen Medien sowie Mecha-nismen zur Weiterleitung von Informationen im Internet. Prof. Roßnagel und seine Mitarbeiter analysieren den bestehenden Rechtsrahmen und geben Empfehlungen zur Weiterentwicklung des Rechts zur Bekämpfung digitaler Desinformation.
... This capacity of fake news to influence beliefs may in turn influence behaviors (Gross, 2017;Levy, 2017). This is supported by the strong tradition in the behavioral sciences of investigating the rational and social determinants of behavior. ...
Article
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A growing literature is emerging on the believability and spread of disinformation, such as fake news, over social networks. However, little is known about the degree to which malicious actors can use social media to covertly affect behavior with disinformation. A lab-based randomized controlled experiment was conducted with 233 undergraduate students to investigate the behavioral effects of fake news. It was found that even short (under 5-min) exposure to fake news was able to significantly modify the unconscious behavior of individuals. This paper provides initial evidence that fake news can be used to covertly modify behavior, it argues that current approaches to mitigating fake news, and disinformation in general, are insufficient to protect social media users from this threat, and it highlights the implications of this for democracy. It raises the need for an urgent cross-sectoral effort to investigate, protect against, and mitigate the risks of covert, widespread and decentralized behavior modification over online social networks.
... Az álhírek terjedéséhez a közösségi oldalak hírmegjelenítési módja és a felhasználók olvasási szokásainak változása is hozzájárul (Gross 2017): a legnagyobb közösségi oldalon, a Facebookon a más weboldalakról származó információk egy címmel, egy nagyméretű képpel és esetleg a cikk leadjével jelennek meg. A cím figyelemfelkeltő, a kép rendszerint bombasztikus, a lead pedig sejtelmes. ...
Chapter
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Veszelszki, Ágnes: deepFAKEnews: New ways of information manipulation Two-thirds of the more than two and a half billion regular social media users get the news (also) from social media interfaces. The audience consumes the news along social media channels and its comments. The ever-changing algorithms of social media (and through them the owners and editors of these sites) are able to exercise very strong control over the attention, information habits and content access of a large part of humanity. With the change in the role of the print media and the growing importance of citizen journalism, news competition has accelerated, and both professional content producers and content creators are facing new ways of information manipulation. This paper investigates the implications of the so-called data capitalism, as well as the ways how the users of (social) media are influenced by misleading information (fake news, pseudo-scientific content, conspiracy theories, deepfake), and what the media user can do against manipulative information.
... The construction of common sense gets more feasible considering the prevalence of the political polarization and echo chamber effect, which denotes the tendency to selectively tune in to only discourse that matches one's political inclinations, solidifying one's opinions further. This is further reinforced by the filter bubble effect, which social media algorithms, based on each user's history of likes and clicks, selectively feed with news and opinions they want to see (Gross 2017). ...
Chapter
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Post-truth is the latest entanglement of politics and power with truth claims. Epitomized by a disregard for facts, post-truth undermines the very foundations of reality and rationality while altering how politics unfolds. Beginning with a theoretical elaboration of post-truth, this chapter outlines the trajectory of the politics of truth in the Turkish context and shows how post-truth drives politics in modern Turkey. While noting the continuities with the past, this chapter invests more in explaining how post-truth politics has operated in the 2000s. It illustrates how the ruling elite, by inundating the political landscape with rumors, fabricated content and conspiracy theories to neutralize facts. This milieu created a smokescreen that obstructed genuine public debate while fashioning a kind of commonsense knowledge immune to factual rebuttal.
... They need to be measurable and have been validated. But this also means that facts may be interpreted differently, as errors, inadvertent falsehoods, misconceptions, or downright lies (Griffiths, 2017), especially if they appeal to emotion (Gross, 2017). An example is the tobacco industry, which is regarded as one of the pioneers of fake news. ...
Conference Paper
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News, whether distributed on social media or in the conventional press, carry the risk of being fake news. How to determine the truth (or falseness) of news? Are there exact criteria to distinguish clearly between true and false news? For example, President Trump denunciates everything the critical press says as "fake news." Filter bubbles help the user to stay in their own sense of truth; algorithms only show them what they are interested in. We provide a systematical analysis of fake news and its content in relation to the truth. In the empirical part of our research, a survey (N=448) in German-speaking areas was conducted to investigate how relevant the content versus the source of news is for detecting fake news. Scientific literature about fake news and post-truth was collected and the different truth theories extracted. We interpreted truth and falsehood in the fake news articles according to the truth theories. The theories that were represented the most often are the theory of reflection, coherence theory of truth, consensus theory of truth, and evidence theory of truth. In the survey, four separate groups were formed at random. Each group was presented with four different news (two of them were true, two of them were satire) for which the sources were arbitrarily mixed up. The participants had to discern which news they perceived as being faked. Our take on fake news and its implications for society is that there is no satisfactory answer on what is considered as the truth, because each truth theory can negate the other. The survey showed that the influence of the source is much greater than of the content when deciding if something is perceived as being true.
... More specifically, the timeline function, although creating the illusion of being a simple chronologically ordered list of items, in fact displays posts selected and ordered by Facebook's algorithm based on individual users' previous history of clicks and likes. This creates the filter bubble effect (Gross 2017) in which everyone is selectively fed opinions that they are likely to agree with and news that they want to see (Bonilla and Rosa 2015;Sanderson et al. 2016). Content recommendation algorithms function as social media bubble filters that directly intervene with and manipulate the diffusion of online information. ...
Article
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This article examines an online protest to develop a contextual interpretation of geospatial big data and to challenge the debates on post-truth. In 2016, in support of the local protests against a crude oil pipeline passing through the region, social media users around the world remotely checked in to the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota using a technique that we call location spoofing. This collective action thus generated a massive volume of inconsistent locational data that could easily be treated as fake information. Our contextual approach, integrating anthropological methodology, interprets user-generated big data as digital traces of human activities in the broader social–technological network of the involved human and nonhuman actors. This study reveals that the online protesters’ use of location-based features and content recommendation algorithm challenged not only the political and technological authorities but also, at a more profound level, the established ways for determining what is true and who gets to decide what is true for what purpose. We argue that this case of decentralized data generation and dissemination demonstrates an ongoing reconfiguration of the previously established regime of truth that has been monopolized by scientists or politicians. Our unique contextual approach to data interpretation is a pioneering effort to update epistemological assumptions about truth in today’s data-intensive environments. We call on scholars from geography, GIScience, and other disciplines to collectively envision an epistemological shift in our continuous pursuit of knowledge and truth in the so-called post-truth era.
... It is worth noting that there are broader networks and social spheres in which applied environmental research is embedded increasingly fueled by connectivity of humans around the globe. Although this can be a force for good, it can also lead to misinformation and disinformation activities (e.g., climate change denial; Dunlap and McCright 2010) and the notion of living in a post-truth world (Gross 2017). The scientific community will have to become more savvy in using various networks to spread evidence-based knowledge and stand up for environmental science by demonstrating its value and relevance (see Lubchenco 2017). ...
Article
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Environmental decision-makers and practitioners need and deserve high quality environmental evidence for effective decision-making. We collate and share a suite of best practices for applied environmental researchers to support their capacity to inform such decision-making processes. This raises a number of important questions: What does “relevant” and informative evidence look like? How do we know when evidence has been applied? We assembled an experienced team of knowledge generators and users in Canada to identify insights that have emerged from their work and that could serve as guideposts for others who seek to apply environmental research to policy challenges. By reflecting on successes and failures, we define “success” in applied environmental science as respectfully conducted, partner-relevant research that is accessible, understandable, and shared, and that can create opportunities for change (e.g., in policy, behaviour, management). Next, we generated a list of best practices for delivering “successful” applied environmental research. Our guidance emphasizes the importance of engaging early and often, in a respectful manner, with partners, generating high-quality, relevant research (which requires flexibility), having a plan for communicating and sharing outputs, and being transparent about uncertainties and limitations. Other important considerations include acknowledging partners for involvement and training early career researchers in applied partnership research. Finally, we generated a list of specific, measurable indicators for evaluating success including: quality and quantity of scientific outputs, the relationship with the partner(s), relevance and connectedness of the research, accessibility and availability of outputs to users, provision of outputs that are digestible and usable by different audiences, training and capacity building, and ultimate outcomes (e.g., including social, environmental, and economic outcomes, as well as partner satisfaction). We encourage those embarking on applied environmental research to consider embracing the strategies, to continuously reflect on progress toward shared research goals, and to be flexible. Doing so will increase the likelihood of delivering research that is “successful” and in doing so contribute to overcoming and addressing environmental issues and problems.
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Here I propose that the phenomenon of “fake news” is indicative of the contested position of news and the dynamics of belief formation in contemporary societies. It is symptomatic of the collapse of the old news order and the chaos of contemporary public communication. These developments attest to a new chapter in the old struggle over the definition of truth—governments waging propaganda wars, elites, and corporations vie to dominate news coverage, and mainstream journalism’s continuous efforts to claim to provide authoritative reportage of current events. The communication chaos makes it necessary to revisit normative arguments about journalism and democracy as well as their feasibility in radically new conditions. Conventional notions of news and truth that ground standard journalistic practice are harder to achieve and maintain amid the destabilization of the past hierarchical order.
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This study focuses on the concept of post-truth meaning the devaluation of the truth, and the fake news spread by the new media. In this study, the contents of fake news spread by new media during the 31st March 2019 local election were examined. The aim of the study is to reveal the density of fake news spread on news sites and social networks during the local election process Also the study deals with questions like in which channels and in what ways the content is produced and what are the themes of the produced content. The study, consisting of two stages, a descriptive content analysis was first conducted for fake news identified by Teyit.org during the local election period of 31 st March 2019. In the second stage, the themes of the fake news were examined, and it was concluded that the new media played a determining role in the spread of fake news.
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Clickbait is a class of internet content characterized by attention-grabbing headlines, but is criticized for being shallow, misleading, or deceptive. Information sciences can offer a range of solutions to clickbaiting, but the field lacks a concrete, unifying definition of the phenomenon. This posteraddresses this need by investigating perceptions and understandings of clickbait through Q-methodology.
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The accelerated spread of fake news via the internet and social media such as Facebook and Twitter have created a debate concerning the credibility of sources online. Assessing the credibility of these sources is generally a complex task and cannot solely rely on computer-based algorithms as evaluation still requires human intelligence. The research question guiding this article deals with the conceptualization of a theoretically anchored concept of a participatory and co-creative medium for evaluation of sources online. The concept-driven design research methodology was applied to address the research question, which consisted of seven activities that unify design and theory. The result of this article is a proposed concept that aims to support the assessment of the credibility of sources online using crowdsourcing as an approach for evaluation. The practical implications of the proposed concept could be to constrain the spread of fake news, strengthen online democratic discourse, and potentially improve the quality of online information.
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Humankind is confronted with two types of risks: conventional and systemic risks. Conventional risks can be contained in space and time, follow linear cause–effect relationships, and require effective and pointed interventions into the cause–effect chain. Systemic risks, however, are characterized by high complexity, transboundary effects, stochastic relationships, and nonlinear cause–effect patterns with tipping points and often associated with less public attention than they deserve. Systemic risks range from natural hazards, environmental threats, and financial crisis to cybersecurity. Due to their special features, systemic risks are overextending established risk management and creating new, unsolved challenges for policy making in risk governance. Their negative effects are often pervasive, impacting fields beyond the obvious primary areas of harm. The following chapter describes the distinct features of systemic risks and explains their properties. It focuses on the issue of risk perception and the likelihood of insufficient attention by policymakers and the public at large to systemic risks. The main argument is that a graphic representation and simulation of evolving systemic risks and a participatory deliberative approach of inclusive risk governance are needed in order to prevent, mitigate, or control systemic risks.
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