Fortune’s Matt Ingram: Fake News Has “Weaponized Human Nature” To “Confirm Biases” Readers “Already Have”

Ingram: “We Saw That Phenomenon On Facebook During This Election”

From the November 18 edition of CNN's CNN Newsroom with Carol Costello:

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CAROL COSTELLO (HOST): You interviewed Paul Horner. What did you take away from that? Because, when I read your article, I didn't know what to make of Paul Horner, frankly.

CAITLIN DEWEY:  Even after speaking with him, I'm not sure I know what to make of him either, to be quite frank. I think he is grappling with an issue that a lot of us are grappling with at this time, which is we have this sudden understanding that there is a flood of fake news on Facebook, but we don't know exactly what sort of impact that had. And even as a writer of that fake news, he doesn't know what sort of impact he may or may not have had on the election, and experiencing that sort of remorse and confusion is an interesting process to witness.

COSTELLO: So the disturbing part about this, Matthew, is fake news stories, because you can give them such great headlines, right? They're actually read more than legitimate news stories.

MATTHEW INGRAM: Right. I think it's important to remember that people don't share things on Facebook because they're true. For most people, they just don't care. They share things because they make them feel a certain way, because they confirm biases they already have, and I think we saw that phenomenon on Facebook during this election. They've effectively weaponized human nature, our desire to share something, because it triggers some strong emotion, and not spend the time to fact check.

COSTELLO: So, Caitlin, I would feel terrible posting something that I knew was untrue. I would feel horrible about doing that. So why doesn't Paul Horner?

DEWEY: Well, I think Paul sees his work as bit of a political statement or provocation. He thinks he's making some greater statement about media literacy or online media literacy in the country. He thinks he's making a statement about how informed, or maybe uninformed voters are. He sees it as almost some kind of meta performance piece, and arguably, he's been effective in that. Maybe too effective.

COSTELLO: Yeah, because I don't know if it came from Paul Borner, but General Mike Flynn, the man that Trump wants to name as his national security advisor, this tweet remains on his Twitter account today. Let's put it on the screen so we can take a look. This is his tweet, and it came from something called “”


You look at that and you say, “come on, you know that's false,” but it is on Flynn's Twitter account to this day, Matthew.

INGRAM: Well, that's part of the problem. This is what I thought was fascinating about the interview Caitlin did, this guy's intention was to make Trump supporters look bad, and they did the exact opposite. They helped him by sharing all of that fake news. So, in one sense, that makes his point. But in another sense, it's horrible. It's just a horrible outcome.


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