Simon Jenkins writes for the Guardian. He is aware that British newspapers, including the Guardian, are no more than acquaintances with truth and campaigns of misdirection are a key facet of editorial policies.
British print media and associated websites are institutionally mendacious. Their primary objective is to push agendas. This is achieved via deluges of misinformation and censorship through omission. The tone of propaganda is almost always divisive; targets for blame are identified while perpetrators are protected.
Jenkins has been, sometimes, sympathetic to left-of-centre opinions but he is embedded in the world of professional semi-tenured establishment journalism. His fear of competition from online activists was revealed in a short article for the Guardian wherein he commented on speculation about the health of Donald Trump.
In twitter poison Jenkins admitted to confusion caused by the variety of fanciful postulations on Trump’s illness that were expressed on social media: “We are in a maelstrom of information, spin and lies.” Jenkins’ emotional response was concocted; he knew that most of the brief comments in the “maelstrom” were infused with wit, and that most queries about the veracity of Trump’s illness were deliberate parodies of conspiracy theories.
There is no stronger critic of social media than social media itself, including in-jokes about the spread of trending topics, multi-layered parodies and references, and obvious self-satirical analyses. Jenkins pretended to not be aware of how platforms like twitter operate, and he behaved like someone who’d just discovered the existence of public nudity.
“Social media is crafted as a colossal edifice of confirmation bias. It is institutionally mendacious.”
There is disinformation in social media but almost all of it originates outside of social media in the professional world of misinformation: Newspapers, politicians’ comms teams, PR companies, reputation management companies and professional manipulators of information use social media to advance their clients’ hustles. Individual users and independent organisations are not the main source of invention of facts online.
However, Jenkins’ absolved the professional truth twisters and focussed his criticism at the public.
“No holder of liberal values – however defined – can defend the cruel anarchy of the web. We have been taken back to the time of the Salem witches, when an anonymous lie pinned to a church door was known to a whole village in minutes.”
He venerated professional media for “creating trust in news” and damned social media for erasing that trust: “That trust has all but collapsed under the barrage of unregulated platforms. Their capacity for good has failed to match their evil.” Professional media’s loss of trustworthiness is its own undoing.
Predictably, Jenkins’ solution to the horror he perceived is more censorship and control.
“It would be paradoxical if it took the illness of a president to finally subject internet ‘news’ to the same regulation as has long disciplined the mainstream media. This must happen.”
Self-described liberals fear the organisational qualities of social media interaction. They fear the solidarity it engenders. Their reaction is always a demand for censorship.
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