Greenwald: Four Viral Claims Spread by Journalists on Twitter in the Last Week Alone That Are False



Last week we asked whether the remaining defenders of Hillary Clinton just had not been exposed to the reality of the Clinton Foundation, its relationships, and how Clinton conducted herself generally in the primaries.

Could it just be ignorance? Could many folks who are generally inclined to like Hillary just have not been exposed to what went down? Was this possible?

It appears that at least in some instances this is indeed the case. The fact that the old media is/was predisposed toward liking Hillary and tolerates Clinton apologism is at least equally part of the problem however. (Not that there isn’t plenty of Trump apologism.)

In a social media world there are going to be things that make the rounds that are untrue. That is going to happen. However, savvy readers and viewers know that this sometimes happens. And readers and viewers are getting savvier to this media environment by the day.

(From The Intercept)

There is ample talk, particularly of late, about the threats posed by social media to democracy and political discourse. Yet one of the primary ways that democracy is degraded by platforms such as Facebook and Twitter is, for obvious reasons, typically ignored in such discussions: the way they are used by American journalists to endorse factually false claims that quickly spread and become viral, entrenched into narratives, and thus, can never be adequately corrected.

The design of Twitter, where many political journalists spend their time, is in large part responsible for this damage. Its space constraints mean that tweeted headlines or tiny summaries of reporting are often assumed to be true with no critical analysis of their accuracy and are easily spread. Claims from journalists that people want to believe are shared like wildfire, while less popular subsequent corrections or nuanced debunking are easily ignored. Whatever one’s views are on the actual impact of Twitter Russian bots, surely the propensity of journalistic falsehoods to spread far and wide is at least as significant.

Just in the last week alone, there have been four major factually false claims that have gone viral because journalists on Twitter endorsed and spread them: three about the controversy involving Donna Brazile and the Democratic National Committee, and one about documents and emails published by WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign. It’s well worth examining them, both to document what the actual truth is, as well as to understand how often and easily this online journalistic misleading occurs.

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