Tired of ‘fake news’? This new tool promises to make you a ‘fake news’ whistleblower

Tired of ‘fake news’? This new tool promises to make you a ‘fake news’ whistleblower
Image: arfa adam/Shutterstock

I doubt that any serious human being is gladdened by the headline, so let me note right at the outset that this “debunking” tool comes to you courtesy of the far-left political magazine “Slate.”

The site’s senior technology writer, Will Oremus, prefaces his unveiling of this bold new invention by noting:

One of the more extreme symptoms of media dysfunction in the past several months has been the ascendance of “fake news”—fabricated news stories that purport to be factual.

He then gives readers a cross-section of recent fake news stories that have a common thread:

A BuzzFeed data analysis found that viral stories falsely claiming that the Pope had endorsed Donald Trump, that Hillary Clinton was implicated in the murder of an FBI agent, that Clinton had sold weapons to ISIS, all received more Facebook engagement than the most popular news stories from established outlets such as the New York Times and CNN. [Emphasis added]

The common thread in case you missed it is not just that these stories relate in some way to the outcome of the recent presidential campaign but that all hail from conservative websites and publications.

The highlighted portion of the quote is downright chuckle-worthy in its implication that the Times and CNN would never disseminate fake news. Apparently Oremus missed the WiliLeaks email from the DNC to CNN that provided questions the cable network should ask Donald Trump during an interview:


But for those with a hankering to become “fake news” cops, here’s how the tool — actually Chrome browser extension — works:

Once you install the extension [called “This Is Fake”], as you scroll through your Facebook feed, stories that Slate has identified as fake news will be flagged with a red banner over the preview image, informing you that they’ve been debunked. What differentiates This Is Fake from some other, earlier experiments in fake-news prevention is that the banner links directly to an article from a reputable source that debunks the story in question, and it prompts the user to share the debunking as a comment on the offending post. This is the antiviral functionality, one whose success depends on your participation. [Emphasis added]

Notice once again the fairly naïve presumption of “reputable sources,” which presumably include the aforementioned New York Times and CNN.

The sheer audacity of one political website appointing itself arbiter of fake news is inescapable, especially when the website in question has itself published bogus stories. In 2012, Slate was only too happy to support the administration’s debunked claim that the attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi arose spontaneously and were sparked by a mob reaction to anti-Islam film. More recently, Slate ran a story that twisted Kellyanne Conway’s words to make it appear she had said that “men don’t want their wives to work in the White House.” So wrongheaded was this piece that even Jake Tapper called Slate out.

Tapper, in case you’re wondering, works for CNN, a “reputable source” in Will Oremus’s world.

Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy has written for The Blaze, HotAir, NewsBusters, Weasel Zippers, Conservative Firing Line, RedCounty, and New York’s Daily News. He has one published novel, Hot Rain, (G. P. Putnam’s Sons), and has been a guest on Radio Vice Online with Jim Vicevich, The Alana Burke Show, Smart Life with Dr. Gina, and The George Espenlaub Show.

Commenting Policy

We have no tolerance for comments containing violence, racism, vulgarity, profanity, all caps, or discourteous behavior. Thank you for partnering with us to maintain a courteous and useful public environment where we can engage in reasonable discourse.

You may use HTML in your comments. Feel free to review the full list of allowed HTML here.