Tag Archives: The National Report

From satire to hoax to incitement: Ebola on the Web

#IAmALiberianNotAVirusIn a post last week, I opened up the subject of differentiating satire from hoax in the era of Facebook shares and careless posts seen by millions.

I cited a fabricated story about Michele Bachmann that fooled many of the most popular progressive sites: a combination of weak (or outright deceptive) satire and a lack of due diligence that’s repeated again and again, to the detriment of our intellectual integrity.

Pretty sleazy stuff, but we have to descend another several circles of Hell to gaze on some of the intentionally false content about the Ebola virus that’s made the rounds the past week.

If you accept the notion that these pieces are somehow satire, the objects are immigrants from the West African nation of Liberia. (Liberia is one of the countries most affected by the disease.)

If you consider these stories provocation, Liberians are potential victims.

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Satire or hoax? Let’s draw a line

Michele BachmannMy last post here took a first pass at what’s so wrong with so many of the online stories posing as news. In last week’s episode, I focused on the vanishing practice of calling people to verify or debunk the supposed meaning of the event described.

This week, I’d like to consider the intentional creation of falsehoods for dissemination online. Many assertions that readers share widely as fact turn out to be distorted or made up entirely.

Are the authors actually trying to deceive readers? Or do they intend to make points through satire, only to have their words taken at face value when the context is lost in transit?

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