NYT: Insight into the fake news machinery

"The Liberty Alliance may have found a way to create something sustainable and even potentially transformational, almost entirely within the ecosystem of Facebook. The Georgia-based firm was founded by Brandon Vallorani, formerly of Answers in Genesis, the organization that opened a museum in Kentucky promoting a literal biblical creation narrative. Today the Liberty Alliance has around 100 sites in its network, and about 150 Facebook pages, according to Onan Coca, the company’s 36-year-old editor in chief. He estimates their cumulative follower count to be at least 50 million. Among the company’s partners are the former congressman Allen West, the 2008 election personality Joe the Plumber, the conservative actor Kirk Cameron and the former “Saturday Night Live” cast member Victoria Jackson. Then there are Liberty’s countless news-oriented pages, which together have become an almost ubiquitous presence on right-leaning political Facebook in the last few years. Their names are instructive and evocative: Eagle Rising; Fighting for Trump; Patriot Tribune; Revive America; US Herald; The Last Resistance.

Because the pages are run independently, the editorial product is varied. But it is almost universally tuned to the cadences and styles that seem to work best on partisan Facebook. It also tracks closely to conservative Facebook media’s big narratives, which, in turn, track with the Trump campaign’s messaging: Hillary Clinton is a crook and possibly mentally unfit; ISIS is winning; Black Lives Matter is the real racist movement; Donald Trump alone can save us; the system — all of it — is rigged. Whether the Liberty Alliance succeeds or fails will depend, at least in part, on Facebook’s algorithm. Systemic changes to the ecosystem arrive through algorithmic adjustments, and the company recently adjusted the news feed to “further reduce clickbait headlines.”

For now, the network hums along, mostly beneath the surface. A post from a Liberty Alliance page might find its way in front of a left-leaning user who might disagree with it or find it offensive, and who might choose to engage with the friend who posted it directly. But otherwise, such news exists primarily within the feeds of the already converted, its authorship obscured, its provenance unclear, its veracity questionable. It’s an environment that’s at best indifferent and at worst hostile to traditional media brands; but for this new breed of page operator, it’s mostly upside. In front of largely hidden and utterly sympathetic audiences, incredible narratives can take shape, before emerging, mostly formed, into the national discourse."

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/28/magazine/inside-facebooks-totally-insane-unintentionally-gigantic-hyperpartisan-political-media-machine.html

tags: nyt,fake_news,information,infosphere,memes,control,future_shock