Excuse my upcoming lament. It’s been a stressful year as I gave up for a while trying to keep a website afloat, and then came back only for it to be the usual situation – be generally ignored and at a loss to do much about it.
There has been so much media attention to news about fake news in the past week. The tone is that it’s worse now than ever, it may have influenced the election, it’s a shame that people are this dumb – really dismal sentiments. I believe you’ll find things are a bit more complicated than that. The saddest part is, though I’m trying to be positive, I don’t think this surge of interest is doing any good.
People are sharing the news about fake news, there is a twitter hashtag for the topic and it’s in all the major media outlets. The people who are outraged about fake news are probably not the ones who shared it consistently in the past providing a very generous windfall to jerks who think it’s funny to deceive the public. Twitter is less of a threat than Facebook for such stories because the click through rate on Twitter is ABYSMALLY LOW. The tweets disappear lower into your scrolling list instead of being featured by rank and staying visible on your opening page for perhaps more than a day. It’s ephemeral. And the major media outlets aren’t the culprit putting out fake news. I don’t think that those who read slanted and absurd websites with unchecked and often totally fictional content are going to suddenly subscribe to the NY Times or Washington Post. I sure HOPE so, but I doubt it. Never mind that Google and Facebook seem to be just giving lip service to the issue. Why should they care if their revenue stream stays high?
My 5 year old website that focuses on critical views of media stories that are misleading or wrong couldn’t get approval to appear in the Google News stream. I tried at least twice. They provide no explanation. I still can’t figure out why Apple News won’t approve Doubtful News as a publsher even though they send me emails as a publisher. Our stories aren’t shared a lot on FB by influential sources. We only have 10K likes on the page. During this outrage over the lack of public skepticism about news, we’ve not seen a wave of subscribers or followers. We have a nice but small following of people who feel good reading the content but no means to appeal to the wider general public. We are not reaching the people who need to be reached.
I had high hopes, which was my first mistake. I’m kind of down about hitting obstacle after obstacle with efforts to promote and expand Doubtful News when people seem to be so eager to find any solution to pseudo-news. What can I do that I haven’t done? How do you get any respect around here? How can I be heard beyond these seemingly soundproof walls? Walls in which I feel I’m speaking to right now.
I don’t think the general population cares a whit about fake news or truth anymore. The majority of the population doesn’t want to make any effort, they want information served to them. How can we get in on that? It’s going to take a major force in media, a sea change, in order to effectively marginalize garbage information and provide more accurate stuff. Many people don’t know that since the dawn of newspapers, there have been deliberate manufactured fake news stories, scandalous but baseless gossip, and lurid tales of depraved characters. It’s always been and will ever be. We have to find a way to push that content lower and raise good content higher. That’s going to take more of an effort than anemic hang-wringing on display this week.
Some innovative hackers have made a good start. Google and Facebook haven’t contacted them about it.
How do sites like mine who want to provide the right information get any respect around here? We don’t.