WHAT IS THIS CRAP?
When I was in Virginia, I met a lot of people and when I had a moment to talk with many fans I was being asked a lot of questions that really didn’t make that much sense to me. One of the questions was about my background in graphic design, which was odd, because I have no background in graphic design. I figured the person assumed I did because I create the pictures for my website for every monologue I write.
I was also asked about my musical background and how it was to be a lead singer of a punk band. I said, “How do you know about my small stint with a B-52’s cover band called the Wanna Be 52’s?” The guy said – I never heard of them. He was referring to another band I had never heard of called, The Red Rockets. He had heard that I was their lead singer.
I said no, then I said I fronted a band in high school and that I managed a band called, Effie and the Rebellion – and he said that was cool.
Then one day, Ron Patton was creating a biography for me that he had to send to a group that was going to feature me as their guest speaker.
He said, “So you were a body builder?”
I reluctantly said “yes” and then said but that was in High School and when you were working out on the weightlifting team, everyone was a body builder—not that I was some guy obsessed with it and I didn’t compete.
Well, today when I was on the train, I decided to go to my Wikipedia page to find out if anyone picked up on the story that I was actually thrown out of the bar in Richmond Virginia during a Ground Zero Lounge.
I rarely look at the page because it is highly inaccurate. Today, my Wikipedia page reached a new low in inaccuracy.
I saw in a section called “Early Life” that I was born in Murray, Utah, attended Murray High School and received average grades in high school. It goes on to say that after graduating in 1982, I joined the punk rock band, The Red Rockets and became the lead singer, before leaving the band in 1984 to go to college. It claims that I majored in graphic design at Utah State University before dropping out to move to Salt Lake City and became a successful bodybuilder.
Yes, I had average grades in school — I went to Kearns High School, graduated in 1982, was on the weightlifting team, wrestling team, played football and was a history major while doing college prep history at the University of Utah.
I never fronted a band called, The Red Rockets, know nothing about graphic design and all of my body building days are just a memory of high school as I have approached soft middle age.
When I saw the entry I laughed a bit, but then I realized that again someone out there has read this about me, and while it isn’t harmful, it still created a false narrative.
For a year now, we have been hearing about fake news and I can recall that when I first heard the term I immediately knew that there was a conspiracy afoot. I was sure that the conspiracy that was being fomented was a plot to coerce information resources to rewrite history and narratives to push an agenda.
Now what is most disconcerting about the idea of a poisoned well of information is that we are seeing unseen information guardians attaching fact check bulletins on stories that are posted on Facebook.
These fact check tags are annoying and I remember posting a story recently about Buzz Aldrin and UFO’s that he claimed were following the Apollo 11 space craft. I have heard Buzz on many documentaries lately saying there were UFO’s following the capsule that went to the moon, and yet there it was a warning that the story I posted was “fake news” and referred me to an entry that was linked to Snopes.com a site that in my opinion lack credibility and yet has been cited as a true guardian of the fake news plague that we are told exists on the internet.
Sadly, it seems there is already a consensus about the concept or deceptive news, propaganda and misinformation, that it’s a problem and it has to be fought. This has lead to the censoring of independent journalism and anyone who develops a theory that may be considered a dissenting opinion apart from any and all mainstream narratives on a certain subject.
I am once again taking on this topic because I have realized that the whole idea and task of revealing fake news has no science behind it and no real criteria that even sustains the practice of trying to police stories and ideas and therefore, should be seen as a flawed attempt at trying to bring out the truth about anything.
Movements against fake news are sometimes as unscientific as the fake news that they are trying to contest.
Why? Because most of our knowledge on fake news comes from the mainstream media. So then we have to conclude that any news or organization that reports information to the public will use the “fake news” allegation as a tool to protect their business model.
Of course everybody knows by now that fake news and misinformation are not a new phenomena; it’s just a very visible issue now. However the definition varies with people and most of the time anything considered “fake” Is merely dissent and theory – that by its very nomenclature indicates that it is purely hypothetical or a hypothesis based on surrounding data.
Making up a story for click bait is truly an attempt at deception; however, conspiracy theory and dissent are essential for a functioning democracy.
You may not know this but the so-called plague of fake news is actually made up. It is not even a real issue.
If you were to actually read a study that was just released about fake news, you will learn that what is happening on Facebook and YouTube is a gross overreaction and the truth should be reported in order to set the record straight on the issue.
According to a study provided by the European Union entitled “Selective Exposure to Misinformation: Evidence from the consumption of fake news during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, fake news made up less than a percent of the total media diet of the average internet user.
One in four internet users according to the survey may have been exposed to fake news and this is only dealing in election propaganda. The survey leaned heavily on the idea that fake news is not the real problem—the real problem is how it is absorbed.
Most of the fake news consumption (six out of ten visits) was done by a small group; just 10% of Americans.
Although researchers were not able to figure out how many people actually believed the misinformation, their study does let one reconsider the actual effect of fake news. The most urgent problem is therefore not fake news itself, but the ways society deals with it. The solution to these challenges is not technical, as many people think. The same study also shows that Facebook’s fact checking efforts and their censorship efforts have been useless.
The concept of fake news is largely shaped by the value our society gives it. It is obvious that the mainstream news values it as a weapon or as an enemy, without really understanding what fake news is and what it does. All the technical and political solutions that we devise are therefore ineffective; we have been told that we are fighting something that is not even defined nor is it even an important issue.
Not that there aren’t stories out there that are meant to deceive and I am not saying that we should believe everything we hear on the internet but haven’t we always secretly thought that we should be skeptical of a lot of what we read on the internet?
We should always be challenging stories and conspiracy theories.
Whether the subject is the moon landing whether or not we went or whether or not the Parkland school massacre survivors were crisis actors – we should be able to use critical thinking and we also have the right to believe what we want to believe even if it is wrong or deemed wrong by the guardians of what is true or false.
Recently, Susan Wojcicki, YouTube’s chief executive, proposed an antidote to fake news: She said to fact check on Wikipedia. She claimed that for each fanciful conspiracy theory peddled on YouTube, there soon would be a link to a corresponding article from Wikipedia.
Once again I roll my eyes and ask are you serious?
This is the same Wikipedia once ridiculed as the encyclopedia “anyone can edit” and later feared as a prime example of how the Internet was empowering a tyranny of the masses to overwhelm genuine information and create fake stories about public figures and other people.
Not to mention that today’s Wikipedia is much more likely to be seen as created as evidence of “the wisdom of the crowds” and we all know how the court of public opinion seems to lean towards the wrong much more so than they do on the right.
Wikipedia, as a concept, is truly an online encyclopedia that relies on information and facts provided by or contributed by “strangers” who we have no idea of what their background might be.
YouTube’s reliance on Wikipedia to set the record straight on fake news builds on the thinking of another fact-challenged platform.
In fact, Facebook announced last year that Wikipedia would help its users root out “fake news.”
How can it when a lot of what Wikipedia allows is fake entries, and entries that are agenda based, and in my case, libelous.
I have petitioned Facebook on several occasions to remove the “political views” section of my Wikipedia page because it was created by a public radio talk show host on KNSJ in San Diego that organized a boycott against my show, urged people to not buy candy from Liam for a school fundraiser and continues to spread lies about me hiding behind fair comment laws.
He has stated in public that he believes my show is racist and hate-filled. When he creates footnotes in citations to prove that I said something or believe something he uses what is called original or primary source material, meaning that he is using as a source things that I have created and theorized about, it is not necessarily my political views – it is simply things that I think about and write about.
The rules of Wikipedia clearly state that citations should not be from original source material but from a secondary source, like a magazine or newspaper. The rules say that the Wikipedia page should be about me not sourced from me.
So in order to find a loophole in this rule, there is a number of secondary sources cited in the Wikipedia page that were either critical of me, or that have been taken out of context in order to attack my character.
For example, the creator cites a comment I made about not caring about whether or not Barack Obama was born in Kenya. I said in a magazine interview that even if he was born in Kenya – his mother worked for an agency fronted by the CIA in Kenya which probably should be factored into the argument.
This makes me a birther, according to Wikipedia.
I have also written about demons and how I had an experience with a demon at a ghost investigation. This according the Wikipedia is a reason to say that I believe I am haunted by demons.
This untrue, but this of course is the remedy to any fake news on YouTube or Facebook right?
When I protested this type of as information about myself and said it was false I was told that it can be seen as fair comment. That works for a blog but not for a site that says it is an answer to fake news.
Was it fair comment when Wikipedia reported that I died of cancer after my third surgery and that Alpha Media was notified about it? My wife was also contacted at 3 AM asking about my death; this, after she endured watching me writhe in pain after my surgeries.
This type of fair comment in a so called credible website actually ruined my chances for an interview with a guest on my radio show. Irene Taylor Brodsky who is the director of the documentary “Beware the Slenderman” would not return the calls from my producer Ron Patton when asked for an interview.
As the date for her HBO documentary drew near she answered her phone and said “That after reading my Wikipedia page she declined because of my so-called belief that Barack Obama was not born in the United States.
When Ron Patton tried to explain that this was not the case, she said that since my show is on nearly 200 conservative radio stations across the country she would tend to believe what Wikipedia had in black and white.
I was floored — her documentary had nothing to do with politics, but apparently political bias prevented her from appearing on my show.
In 2014, I was alerted on my Twitter account that my Wikipedia page was altered anonymously by someone in the House of Representatives. I was never told who altered the page only that several other people were targeted including Vice Presidential candidate, Sarah Palin.
The ordeal was also reported in several media mags and websites – I responded saying that I felt that perhaps this means that Wikipedia should investigate and vet anyone who alters a page, but that was ignored.
What is comical is that it isn’t even cited as an event in my Wikipedia timeline.
Clearly, Wikipedia has achieved a new trusted status. In a critical way, it swapped places with Google, YouTube’s parent company, and now serves as the “good cop” of the Internet.
The very masses that have given us intentional misinformation have now moved to Wikipedia, which is now apparently the arbiter of truth according to the newly-plagued news aggregators.
Wikipedia should be in the crosshairs of an investigative review as to how accurate it truly is.
When the creators of Wikipedia introduced their novel system for producing an online encyclopedia from scratch, especially the boldly ingenious idea of allowing anyone to create and edit the articles published on the site — many chose to look away. The one institution all in from the start was Google, which immediately recognized and respected the influence that Wikipedia was having on the Web.
They are also looking away now, and when someone like me who has asked them to take down the lies about me on their page – they choose to ignore my requests and even threats I have made about suing their organization.
Wikipedia flourishes now while traditional, well-respected print publications, like Encyclopedia Britannica, are languishing.
At any given moment, volunteers and paid workers are writing fictional narratives that they present online as news stories, and some of those will get picked up and shared, perhaps thousands of times, on social media.
Hoaxes are presented as fact, conspiracy theories are offered as truth, and some of them may even end up on Wikipedia.
Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia recently gave a keynote address on “the future role for evidence-based journalism” at the Westminster Media Forum, an international conference organized by the British Parliament.
In the face of false information, Wales still believes that the more open and connected people are online, and stands by a crowd sourced encyclopedia that can be seen as the mother of false history and inaccurate content.
All of the information that may be good, bad, or irrelevant about you obviously spreads; and I always wonder if it is actually keeping me from having more success in my life – people see it in your byline and they want to believe the worst.
I believe this is why trolls push bad information – it is there to hurt you.
It’s what everyone sees in your byline and wonders “who is this clown I am hearing on the radio?”
People who don’t know you read Wikipedia and think they know you – they don’t know you and it isn’t always good to read what people write in a crowd sourced encyclopedia about you.
Because of all of the content and what I call lies, I hadn’t paid attention to my Wikipedia entry, for much the same reason one doesn’t rush to open a letter from a debt collector.
You would just rather not know.