Since the election of President Trump there have been media articles raging about fake news websites. My initial thought was that this might be a revolt against the considerable number of Hillary puff pieces emanating from the New York Times and its ilk leading up to the election. After a brief bit of spelunking I find those were not the target of rage. There is discussion at Facebook of possibly banning articles that are deemed to be from fake news sites. Google is also discussing disallowing its ad services from fake news sites. The concern is that if war were to be waged against fake news, then there would be a group of people deciding and enforcing what news is fake and what is real. Who would be these deciders and what of their qualifications?
I vote against this prospective censorship and banning of websites. In a light-hearted example, let’s say a sports writer thinks the Cleveland Browns have a chance of reaching the playoffs next season [this season is already shot for this perennially damaged sports franchise]. As far as I’m concerned that’s not real news and such silly opinions would be worthy of ridicule. But just because I disagree with it doesn’t mean it should be banned from a public that is willing to consume it. Certainly we can all agree that the Browns footballers playing well enough to reach the playoffs is a comical idea, but there really is a serious issue at stake.
The greater issue is that if censorship comes to fruition, a news article or opinion piece putting forth a challenging idea might be deemed inedible for public consumption. If a journalist challenges global warming or is perceived to slight a favored demographic, for example, these articles might be deemed to have run afoul of an enforcer’s threshold of fake news. Ignorance prevails every time only a single side of an issue is put forth with the other perspective being suppressed. Such suppression would be a significant barrier to fostering an educated informed populace.
Of course fake news is problematic, so is dumbed down journalism written to navigate within the barriers of approved talking points. The truth is there are dubious websites, they are deserving of their freedom and our derision. Just as importantly, serious people should consider sources before ingesting their news. So let's be serious.