Tuesday, July 24, 2018

My Fake News Experiment.

I wanted to test something after seeing a video online where a media analyst named Mark Dice did a man on the street interview telling people the word gullible was being removed from American dictionaries to save paper and make room for new words since "gullible" was not in use anymore in contemporary society. 

What struck me about this bit Mr. Dice did was how the people he chose were very introspective and against the removal of the word gullible from the dictionary rather than being passive about it. Mr. Dice would smirk between takes, but this video was a throwback to an earlier time when he recorded it and maybe it seemed funny to those who watched it then, but for me I was not convinced whether or not these people were truly gullible.

So I wondered what would happen if I made up two pieces of fake news on my own and endeavored make it as believable as possible based on variants on real things that have been on the news for years. 

My goal was not to make people feel stupid or hurt and I certainly did not want to start something that could have bad consequences for anyone, including myself, which is why I decided to reveal it now and not allow my fake news stories to get a mind of their own.

For my friends in the UK and Australia, I posted this:

Due to the global refugee and migrant crisis, the UN is meeting to pass a proposal for large urban areas to bag their feces in state provided biodegradable zip lock bags and deposit them in brown scented contractor reciprocals to be collected by special sanitation teams and used for landfills so they can accommodate more immigrants globally. The process was perfected in China and is being implemented in the European Union.

For Americans I tried this:

Congress is passing a bill to cut down on noise pollution by taxing everyone based on how many words they speak using algorithms provided by social media so they can accurately measure the noise pollution one creates and tax people based on the quality of words used.

I am still seeing how many British or Australians fell for my fake news, but in America, I got a few.

As I noted above, I am kind of afraid to actually try this with many people because I fear the consequences it could cause, but it has been an interesting sociological experiment given our divided and sensitive times. So for those of you who read my Facebook posts or direct messages that believed what I wrote was true, relax it was fake. 

Based on what I have learned I would say people are passionate, introspective and skeptical, but not gullible. This is not to lay shade on Dice's man on the street interviews. What he does take courage and I give him credit for that. However if you tie a fake story as close to the truth as possible so people can extrapolate on it, they might believe it or even get triggered. The last thing we need is that so for those of you who believed me, I apologize. This was a one time experiment and anyone can be fooled into believing something that is fabricated is real and it happens a lot and I am vulnerable to it too. It does show that when it comes to larger issues and even things that appear small and insignificant, they all deserve to be scrutinized before you take it as real no matter the source you get it from. Thank you all for being good sports and stay vigilant.

(C) Copyright 2018 By Mark A. Rivera
All Rights Reserved.