Washington Post’s ‘Fake News’ Guilt, by Robert Parry

Gathered together in one place, for easy access, an agglomeration of writings and images relevant to the Rapeutation phenomenon.

Re: Washington Post’s ‘Fake News’ Guilt, by Robert Parry

Postby admin » Thu Nov 29, 2018 3:04 am

Facebook Censorship and the Atlantic Council
by Jonathan Sigrist
Global Research
October 14, 2018

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Yesterday we witnessed one of the greatest Facebook account and page purges since its formation over a decade ago. In total, 559 pages and 251 personal accounts were instantly removed from the platform, for having “consistently broken our rules against spam and coordinated inauthentic behavior” according to Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s Head of Cybersecurity and former White House National Security Council Director of Cybersecurity Policy under Obama. This is but one of similar yet smaller purges that have been unfolding in front of our eyes over the last year, all in the name of fighting “fake news” and so called “Russian propaganda”.

What very few people know though, is that about 5 months ago, Facebook announced that is was officially partnering with the Atlantic Council in the form of an “election partnership […] to prevent [their] service from being abused during elections.” Indeed, the US midterm elections are only a couple of weeks away, so the Atlantic Council and its Digital Forensic Research Lab are now going at it with full force, closing facebook accounts left and right that they personally deem could be fake accounts, or accounts spreading misinformation, based on very shady criterias.

In February 2009, James L. Jones, then-chairman of the Atlantic Council, stepped down in order to serve as President Obama's new National Security Advisor and was succeeded by Senator Chuck Hagel.[3] In addition, other Council members also left to serve the administration: Susan Rice as ambassador to the UN, Richard Holbrooke as the Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, General Eric K. Shinseki as the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and Anne-Marie Slaughter as Director of Policy Planning at the State Department. Four years later, Hagel stepped down to serve as US Secretary of Defense. Gen. Brent Scowcroft served as interim chairman of the organization's Board of Directors until January 2014, when former ambassador to China and governor of Utah Jon Huntsman, Jr.[4] was appointed.

-- Atlantic Council, by Wikipedia


One doesn’t need to look far to understand who the Atlantic Council are and what they stand for : it is a think tank essentially funded by NATO, weapons manufacturers, Middle-Eastern oil-state monarchies, billionaires and different branches of the US military. In short, it has been described as being nothing less than NATO’s unofficial propaganda wing. The Atlantic Council doesn’t shy away from its political intents across the world, which can be seen solely by looking at who sits on its directors board -– the crème de la crème when it comes to US neocons & war criminals: Henry Kissinger, Condoleezza Rice, Frank Carlucci, James A. Baker, R. George P. Shultz, James Woolsey, Leon Panetta, Colin Powell, Robert Gates, and many more.

Needless to say, the Atlantic Council has been on the same side as every single war and conflict engendered by US and NATO imperialism over the last 50 years, and has itself played a role in abusing democratic elections around the world as well as spreading propaganda and misinformation both in home countries and abroad to achieve its political means.


A snippet of who funds the Atlantic Council, its organisation of Bellingcat and therefore Eliot Higgins and Ben Nimmo.

American Israel Public Affairs Committee
Bank of America Corporation
Bank of New York Mellon, Inc.
BASF Corporation (created Zyklon-B for Nazis)
BGR Group
Bloomberg Philanthropies
BP America Inc.
Crescent Petroleum
Elbit Systems of America, Inc.
European Investment Bank
European Union
Foreign & Commonwealth Office of the UK
Inter-American Development Bank
International Republic Institute
JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Lockheed Martin Corproation
NATO
Northrop Grumman Corporation
Omar Shawaf (anti-Assad activist)
Open Society Initiative for Europe (Soros)
Pfizer Inc.
Raytheon Company
Renaissance Strategic Advisors
Rockefeller & Co., Inc.
Rockefeller Brothers Fund
SAFRAN SA
SCM Holdings
Textron Inc.
The Boeing Company
The Dow Chemical Company (created Agent Orange)
Twenty-First Century Fox, Inc.
Ukrainian World Congress
United States Air Force
United States Army
United States Chamber of Commerce
United States Department of State
United States Marine Corps
United States Navy


Full list here:Honor Roll of Contributors

The Atlantic Council is grateful for the generous support it receives from private foundations; US and foreign government agencies, companies, and individuals. These supporters enable the Council to continue its quality programming and timely analysis, thereby allowing it to pursue its mission of renewing the Atlantic community for global challenges. Supporters engage with the Council through partnerships, sponsorships, and/or membership. The Council acknowledges the following contributors who supported the Council's work in the 2017 fiscal year.

$1,000,000+ Donations
Adrienne Arsht
Bahaa Hariri
John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
Smith Richardson
Foundation
United Arab Emirates

$500,000 - $999,999 Donations
Calık Holding
Crescent Petroleum
Foreign & Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom
Limak Enerji
OCP Foundation
United

$250,000 - $499,000 Donations
Abu Dhabi National Oil Company
Airbus Group SE
Carnegie Corporation of New York
Cheniere Energy, Inc.
Chevron
Dentons
General Atomics
HNA Group
HSBC Holdings plc
MNG Group of Companies
Mubadala Development Company
Saab North America, Inc.
SCM Holdings
SICPA HOLDING SA
United Technologies Corporation

$100,000 - $249,000 Donations
Anonymous
Accenture Federal Services
Baker McKenzie
The Blackstone Group L.P.
Blue Star Strategies, LLC
BP America Inc.
China-United States Exchange Foundation
Chopivsky Family Foundation
DLA Piper
Eni S.p.A.
Etihad Airways
Ford Motor Company
Google Inc.
C. Boyden Gray
Anis Haggar
İhlas Holding A.Ş.
Korea Foundation
Korea Institute for Advancement of Technology
Lockheed Martin Corporation
Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Lithuania Alexander V. Mirtchev
Pella Resources Limited
Raytheon Company
Reliance Anil Dhirubhai
Ambani Group
Rockefeller Brothers Fund
Royal Norwegian Ministry of Defence
Sarah Scaife Foundation
Southern Company
Squire Patton Boggs
Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs
Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States
Tekfen Holding
Tellurian Inc.
Thales S.A.
Thomson Reuters
David Trone
Tupraş
United States Air Force Academy
Victor Pinchuk Foundation

$50,000 - $99,000 Donations
21st Century Fox, Inc
Robert J. Abernethy
AM General, LLC
ANA Holdings
Arab Bank
Beretta USA Corporation
Thomas L. Blair
The Boeing Company
Reza Bundy
Cengiz Holding
Chubb Limited
Cigna Corporation
The Coca-Cola Company
De la Calle Madrazo
Mancera SC
Embassy of Japan in the United States of America
European Investment Bank
General Electric
Robert S. Gelbard
Taher Gozal
Hanesbrands Inc.
The Howard Baker Forum
Mary L. Howell
Insurance Information Institute
JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Andre Kelleners
KraussMaffei Group GmbH
Lane Mideast Contracting, LLC
Lennar International
Leonardo S.p.A.
MCB Bank Ltd. Microsoft Corporation
National Endowment for Democracy
Leonid Nevzlin
Noble Energy
PGNiG
W. DeVier Pierson
PKN Orlen S.A.
Ploughshares Fund
PSJ, a.s.
RBC Capital Markets
S&P Global Inc.
SAFRAN SA
Science Applications
International Corporation
Scripps Networks
Interactive, Inc.
SeverGroup
Omar Shawaf
Kris Singh
SouthWest Holdings Ltd.
Textron Inc.
Total S.A.
Ukrainian Canadian Congress
United Parcel Service, Inc
United States Air Force
US Mission to NATO
Timothy Walsh
Ronald Weiser
Work Service S.A.
Zurich Insurance Group Ltd

$25,000 - $49,999 Donations
Arab Strategy Forum
David Aufhauser
Aydın Doğan Foundation
Bruce Bedford
Colleen Bell
BP Petrolleri A.Ş.
Michael Calvey
John E. Chapoton
Melanie Chen
Children’s National
Medical Center
Scott M. Delman
Department of Foreign
Affairs and Trade
of Australia
Edelman
Elbit Systems of
America, Inc.
Ernst & Young LLP
ExxonMobil Corporation
Eye on ISIS in Libya
Federal Foreign Office
of the Federal Republic
of Germany
First Eastern (Holdings)
Limited
Brian Fitzgerald
Ronald M. Freeman
Global Media Holding S.A.
Thomas H. Glocer
Grupa Lotos
Gokhan Gundoğdu
Stephen J. Hadley
Ian Hague
Brian C. McK. Henderson
Steve Herman
Hogan Lovells
Huntington Ingalls
Industries, Inc.
Jones Group International
Kibar Holding
Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung
Kuwait Petroleum Corporation
Leidos Holdings, Inc.
LexisNexis Legal & Professional Lloyds Banking Group
George Lund
Mannheim LLC
William Mayer
MBDA Incorporated
McLarty Associates
MetLife, Inc.
Morgan Stanley
Mozart Investments Inc
Northrop Grumman
Corporation
Parsons Corporation
Patriot Group International
Penguin Random House
Polska Grupa Energetyczna
PricewaterhouseCoopers
The Republic of Turkey
Prime Ministry Investment
Support and Promotion
Agency
Mr. and Mrs. Charles
O. Rossotti
Royal Dutch Shell plc
Saab Technologies Poland
Sp. z o.o.
Brent Scowcroft
Khosrow B. Semnani
Stephen Shapiro
Statoil ASA
John Studzinski
Texas A&M University
Transatlantic Policy Network
Uber B.V.
Harlan Ullman
United States Army
United States Chamber
of Commerce
United States Marine Corps
United States Navy
US Army War College
Volvo Polska
The William and Flora
Hewlett Foundation
WPP

$10,000 - $24,999 Donations
Abbott
Charles C. Adams, Jr.
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer
& Feld LLP
Allied Command
Transformation
Barbara Anderson
Fredo Arias-King
Victor Ashe
Atakaan Enerji
Avascent Group
Avner Oil Exploration
Ayco
Baker Donelson
Baltic-American Freedom
Foundation
Beauregard Foundation Inc.
BNY Mellon
John D. Bowlin
Charles Koch Institute
Cubic Corporation
Delek Drilling
Deutsche Marine
Conrado Dornier
Edison Foundation Institute
for Electric Innovation
Ekkou VP
The Emirates Group
Emitel
European Commission
Facebook, Inc.
Federal Foreign Office of Germany
April Foley
Google Poland Sp. z.o.o.
Greenberg Traurig, LLP
GURMAT ELEKTRİK
URETİM A.Ş. IC Holding
Inter-American
Development Bank
Invenergy LLC
Investcorp
Reuben Jeffery
JETRO New York
Hakim Drissi Kaitouni
Franklin D. Kramer
Kuwait Oil Company
Christopher Lawrence
John D. Macomber
Susan R. McCaw
Virginia A. Mulberger
National Police Corps
of the Kingdom of the
Netherlands
NATO
Hilda Ochoa-Brillembourg
Perkins Coie LLP
Renaissance Strategic
Advisors
Republic of Estonia
Ministry of Defence
The Republic of Korea
Ministry of Unification
Rockefeller & Co., Inc.
Theodore Sedgwick
David Thorne
Zafer Topaloglu
Sezen Uysal
Charles F. Wald
Jean-Louis Wolzfeld
Zorlu Enerji

$5,000 - $9,999 Donations
Odeh Aburdene
Muddassar Ahmed
Rafic A. Bizri
Esther Brimmer
Nancy Brinker
Byron Callan
Cambridge Global Advisors
Canadian Security
Intelligence Service
Center for Strategic and
International Studies
Central Asia-Caucasus
Institute
Concordia Summit
Conversion Capital
Peter Cunniffe
Stuart E. Eizenstat
Excelerate Energy
Frontera Resources
Laurie S. Fulton
Sherri W. Goodman
Michael V. Hayden
Michael Hess
Hirsch Bedner Associates
Frederic Hof
International Center for
Middle Eastern-Western
Dialogue
Irving Oil Frederick Kempe
and Pamela Meyer
Robert M. Kimmitt
Kyle House Group
Richard L. Lawson
Jan M. Lodal
The LWH Family Foundation
Pete Marocco
McKinsey Global Institute
Prakash H. Mehta
Judith Miller
The MITRE Corporation
Michael J. Morell
Ian Musselman
Nathan Associates
NeuStar
Thomas R. Nides
PATH
Pirelli
Daniel Poneman
Andrew Prozes
Randolph Reynolds
Schaeffler Group North
America
James Seng
Stuart Family Foundation
Matthew Swift
Aarti Tandon & Joseph Curry
Enzo Viscusi
Dov S. Zakheim

$1,000 - $4,999 Donations
Amerikan Şirketler Derneği
The Asan Institute for
Policy Studies
Elizabeth F. Bagley
Bruce Bennett
Margaret Bennett
Dennis Blair
Harold Brown
James E. Cartwright
Casimir Pulaski Foundation
Centre for International
Governance Innovation
Christian Democratic Union
of Germany
Columbia University
Ivo H. Daalder
Brian Dailey
Christopher J. Dodd
Embassy of the Republic
of Croatia in the USA
Frank Finelli
Fraser Institute
The General Secretariat
of the Council of the
European Union
Craig Goldberg
Patrick Gross
Gulf Cooperation Council
Barbara Hackman Franklin
Rita E. Hauser
Steven Hefter
John Herbst
Robert D. Hormats
William J. Hybl
The Jamestown Foundation
Luis Jose Kafie
Lindsey Kelley
Tom C. Korologos
Geraldine Kunstadter
Jane Holl Lute
Lynx Investment
Advisory LLC
Wendy W. Makins
Federico Marsili
Eric D.K. Melby
Mark Meyer
Franklin C. Miller
Hans Miller
James Miller
Fay Moghtader
Manuel Muniz
Joseph S. Nye
Philip A. Odeen
Carlos Pascual
J. Peter Pham
Thomas R. Pickering
Protiviti
Rasmussen Global
Razumkov Centre
Walter B. Slocombe
Special Operations
Command Europe
James G. Stavridis
John Tanner
Frances M. Townsend
US-Ukraine Business Council
University of California,
Los Angeles
US Army Europe
Julie Varghese
Ronald P. Verdicchio
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
Western NIS
Enterprise Fund
Ellen Winsor
Mary C. Yates

Up to $999 Donations
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I-Ju (Max) Chen
Albert Cho
Erin Clancy
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Ana Dukić
Arnold C. Dupuy
Paige Ennis
European Parliament
Liaison Office
Benjamin Flatgard
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Hence, it should come as no surprise that when the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab gets down to work weeks before the upcoming midterms, it has little intention of putting a stop to actual disinformation groups and rather silences those that speak a message opposing their own. Many of the pages and accounts taken down have been political (often leftist), anti-war, independent journalists and media outlets that are known to go against the grain of mainstream media outlets. Anti-Media (antimedia.com), a reputable source of independent journalism, saw its page with over 2 million followers taken down overnight with no concrete explanation as to why. Shortly after, Twitter decided to take them down as well, as well as Carey Wedler‘s (editor at Anti-Media) own personal account for literally no reason:

Hello Carey,
Your account, CareyWedler has been suspended for violating the Twitter Rules.
Specifically, for:
Note that if you attempt to evade a permanent suspension by creating new accounts, we will suspend your new accounts. If you wish to appeal this suspension, please contact our support team.


Many of the pages taken down had already been targeted back in 2016 by the McCarthyist webpage PropOrNot.not, endorsed by the Washington Post, in an effort to arbitrarily mark pages that they believe somehow are connected to Russian propaganda efforts. Already back then it was clear that many of the pages targeted by PropOrNot were leftist, anti-war pages, and almost none of them had anything to do with Russia whatsoever. The Washington Post finally later on retracted their article endorsing PropOrNot, but this didn’t help the fact that these websites had now already been flagged as propaganda by many.

Other pages taken down are The Free Thought Project, also an anti-war critic of establishment politics with around 3.1 million followers on Facebook. RT Reporter Rachel Blevins with 70,000 followers on facebook and investigative journalist Dan Dicks with 350,000 followers also both saw their accounts taken down overnight -– both were very critical of mainstream journalism. These are but some of the many accounts affected, with certain accounts on the fringe far right also targeted. Facebook has suffered great pressure lately from Congress for its apparent role in the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, being blamed for not having taken on enough active measures to fight the spread of fake news. Under such pressure it is not surprising that Facebook chooes to cooperate with a congress-approved think tank –- the Atlantic Council --, and basically give them a free hand to censor as much as they want, in order for themselves to avoid any future heat from the US government. This can be argued as to seriously stain the name of Facebook as an independent social media platform, if it is going to bend down to any unreasonable demands coming from the US government.

In the name of fighting fake news and targeting “inauthentic behavior” and “misleading users”, Facebook has essentially indulged in what was in 1934 Germany called the “Gleichschaltung” of the media -– a synchronized outphasing of dissident voices in the media and a consolidation of political opinions.
The internet has traditionally always been a bastion of free speech, and it is hence not surprising that those in power seek to undermine its ability to openly criticize the powerful. The truth does not do them favor, hence they would rather not have it expressed too far and wide –- something that the internet has otherwise made possible. Given that censorship is still extremely frowned upon by the general public, doing so (just like when seeking to sell a war) requires the majority of people to approve of it. The fight against fake news and foreign propaganda efforts has done just that: it has given those in power a pretext to openly censor dissident voices all while being praised in the making for so-called “safeguarding western democracies”. More of the same behaviour can be expected from both Facebook and Twitter in the future, and we cannot expect major media outlets like The New York Times,The Washington Post, CNN or MSNBC to stand up against it. After all, many of these censored independent medias are the only actors left who dare hold the mainstream media into account for their role as mere propaganda outlets of the establishment.

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Jonathan Sigrist is a student at the University of Tromsø in Northern Norway, currently studying the geopolitical, environmental, cultural and economic relations between the Arctic nations (The US, Canada, Russia, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Denmark/Greenland and Iceland), as well as the future of the Arctic’s role in global politics. He has lived in Denmark, Sweden, Finland and France, and is a fervent observer and critic of US foreign policy.
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Re: Washington Post’s ‘Fake News’ Guilt, by Robert Parry

Postby admin » Thu Nov 29, 2018 3:54 am

Removing Additional Inauthentic Activity from Facebook
by Nathaniel Gleicher, Head of Cybersecurity Policy and Oscar Rodriguez, Product Manager
Facebook Newsroom
October 11, 2018

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People need to be able to trust the connections they make on Facebook. It’s why we have a policy banning coordinated inauthentic behavior — networks of accounts or Pages working to mislead others about who they are, and what they are doing. This year, we’ve enforced this policy against many Pages, Groups and accounts created to stir up political debate, including in the US, the Middle East, Russia and the UK. But the bulk of the inauthentic activity we see on Facebook is spam that’s typically motivated by money, not politics. And the people behind it are adapting their behavior as our enforcement improves.

One common type of spam has been posts that hawk fraudulent products like fake sunglasses or weight loss “remedies.” But a lot of the spam we see today is different. The people behind it create networks of Pages using fake accounts or multiple accounts with the same names. They post clickbait posts on these Pages to drive people to websites that are entirely separate from Facebook and seem legitimate, but are actually ad farms. The people behind the activity also post the same clickbait posts in dozens of Facebook Groups, often hundreds of times in a short period, to drum up traffic for their websites. And they often use their fake accounts to generate fake likes and shares. This artificially inflates engagement for their inauthentic Pages and the posts they share, misleading people about their popularity and improving their ranking in News Feed. This activity goes against what people expect on Facebook, and it violates our policies against spam.

Topics like natural disasters or celebrity gossip have been popular ways to generate clickbait. But today, these networks increasingly use sensational political content – regardless of its political slant-– to build an audience and drive traffic to their websites, earning money for every visitor to the site. And like the politically motivated activity we’ve seen, the “news” stories or opinions these accounts and Pages share are often indistinguishable from legitimate political debate. This is why it’s so important we look at these actors’ behavior -– such as whether they’re using fake accounts or repeatedly posting spam -– rather than their content when deciding which of these accounts, Pages or Groups to remove.

Today, we’re removing 559 Pages and 251 accounts that have consistently broken our rules against spam and coordinated inauthentic behavior. Given the activity we’ve seen — and its timing ahead of the US midterm elections — we wanted to give some details about the types of behavior that led to this action. Many were using fake accounts or multiple accounts with the same names and posted massive amounts of content across a network of Groups and Pages to drive traffic to their websites. Many used the same techniques to make their content appear more popular on Facebook than it really was. Others were ad farms using Facebook to mislead people into thinking that they were forums for legitimate political debate.

Of course, there are legitimate reasons that accounts and Pages coordinate with each other — it’s the bedrock of fundraising campaigns and grassroots organizations. But the difference is that these groups are upfront about who they are, and what they’re up to. As we get better at uncovering this kind of abuse, the people behind it — whether economically or politically motivated — will change their tactics to evade detection. It’s why we continue to invest heavily, including in better technology, to prevent this kind of misuse. Because people will only share on Facebook if they feel safe and trust the connections they make here.
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Re: Washington Post’s ‘Fake News’ Guilt, by Robert Parry

Postby admin » Thu Nov 29, 2018 4:37 am

Trust Is Collapsing in America: When truth itself feels uncertain, how can a democracy be sustained?
by Uri Friedman
The Atlantic
January 21, 2018

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“In God We Trust,” goes the motto of the United States. In God, and apparently little else.

Only a third of Americans now trust their government “to do what is right”—a decline of 14 percentage points from last year, according to a new report by the communications marketing firm Edelman. Forty-two percent trust the media, relative to 47 percent a year ago. Trust in business and non-governmental organizations, while somewhat higher than trust in government and the media, decreased by 10 and nine percentage points, respectively. Edelman, which for 18 years has been asking people around the world about their level of trust in various institutions, has never before recorded such steep drops in trust in the United States.

“This is the first time that a massive drop in trust has not been linked to a pressing economic issue or catastrophe like [Japan’s 2011] Fukushima nuclear disaster,” Richard Edelman, the head of the firm, noted in announcing the findings. “In fact, it’s the ultimate irony that it’s happening at a time of prosperity, with the stock market and employment rates in the U.S. at record highs.”

“The root cause of this fall,” he added—just days after polling revealed that Americans’ definition of “fake news” depends as much on their politics as the accuracy of the news, and a Republican senator condemned the American president’s Stalinesque attacks on the press and “evidence-based truth,” and a leading think tank warned that America was suffering from “truth decay” as a result of political polarization and social media—is a “lack of objective facts and rational discourse.”

It used to be that what Edelman labels the “informed public”—those aged 25 to 64 who have a college degree, regularly consume news, and are in the top 25 percent of household income for their age group—placed far greater trust in institutions than the U.S. public as a whole. This year, however, the gap all but vanished, with trust in government in particular plummeting 30 percentage points among the informed public. America is now home to the least-trusting informed public of the 28 countries that the firm surveyed, right below South Africa. Distrust is growing most among younger, high-income Americans.

But whereas trust is falling in the United States and a number of other countries with tumultuous politics at the moment, including South Africa, Italy, and Brazil, it’s actually increasing elsewhere, most prominently in China. Eighty-four percent of Chinese respondents said they trusted government—levels the United States hasn’t seen since the early Johnson administration—and 71 percent said they trusted the media. The world’s two most powerful countries, one democratic and the other authoritarian, are moving in opposite directions. In each case, the trajectory is largely being determined by people’s views of government.

Chinese respondents are probably reflecting on the upward mobility and improving quality of life that their political leaders have helped deliver, David Bersoff, the lead researcher for the Edelman report, told me: “I’m looking at my life now and it looks a lot better than it did before, and I can look forward and still see things that would get even better.” When I asked Richard Edelman why survey participants tended to trust technology companies much more than government, he reasoned that it was because those companies “have products that perform for you every day—whether it’s your cell phone or your airline.” Chinese respondents might have been making a similar statement about the government’s performance.

“There’s a lot of chaos and uncertainty in the world, and when there is chaos and uncertainty in the world centralized, authoritative power tends to do better,” Bersoff added. (It’s worth noting that other countries with high trust levels in the report range politically from democratic India to more-or-less democratic Indonesia and Singapore to the undemocratic United Arab Emirates.)

[x]
Percent Change in Trust in Government, Media, Business, and NGOs, 2017 — 2018
2018 EDELMAN TRUST BAROMETER


Why, though, is trust eroding in the United States in the absence of an economic crisis or other kind of catastrophe? What’s changed, according to the Edelman report, is that it’s gotten much harder to discern what is and isn’t true—where the boundaries are between fact, opinion, and misinformation.

“The lifeblood of democracy is a common understanding of the facts and information that we can then use as a basis for negotiation and for compromise,” said Bersoff. “When that goes away, the whole foundation of democracy gets shaken.”

“This is a global, not an American issue,” Edelman told me. “And it’s undermining confidence in all the other institutions because if you don’t have an agreed set of facts, then it’s really hard to judge whether the prime minister is good or bad, or a company is good or bad.” A recent Pew Research Center poll, in fact, found across dozens of countries that satisfaction with the news media was typically highest in countries where trust in government and positive views of the economy were highest, though it didn’t investigate how these factors were related to one another.

America actually falls in the middle of surveyed countries in terms of trust in the media, which emerges from the Edelman poll as the least-trusted institution globally of the four under consideration. (In the United States, the firm finds, Donald Trump voters are over two times more likely than Hillary Clinton voters to distrust the media.) Nearly 70 percent of respondents globally were concerned about “fake news” being used as a weapon and 63 percent said they weren’t sure how to tell good journalism from rumor or falsehoods. Most respondents agreed that the media was too focused on attracting large audiences, breaking news, and supporting a particular political ideology rather than informing the public with accurate reporting. While trust in journalism actually increased a bit in Edelman’s survey this year, trust in search and social-media platforms dipped.

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Percent Trust in Media and Change From 2017 to 2018
2018 EDELMAN TRUST BAROMETER


In last year’s survey, the perspective that many respondents expressed was “‘I’m not sure about the future of my job because of robots or globalization. I’m not sure about my community anymore because there are a lot of new people coming in. I’m not sure about my economic future; in fact, it looks fairly dim because I’m downwardly mobile,’” Edelman said. These sentiments found expression in the success of populist politicians in the United States and Europe, who promised a return to past certainties. Now, this year, truth itself seems more uncertain.

“We’re desperately looking for land,” Edelman observed. “We’re flailing, and people can’t quite get a sense of reality.” It’s no way to live, let alone sustain a democracy.
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