[-empyre-] Welcome to June on -empyre: Fake News in a Global Climate

Renate Terese Ferro rferro at cornell.edu
Tue Jun 6 12:28:27 AEST 2017

Welcome to June 2017 on –empyre- soft-skinned space
Moderated by Renate Ferro (US) and Tim Murray (US)
Fake News in a Global Climate
With invited guests:
Week 1: June 5:  An overview Renate Ferro and Tim Murray, Lindsay Kelley and Anna Munster
Week 2: June 9:  Mark Marino and Talan Memmott
Week 3: June 16: Kevin Hamilton and more TBA
Week 4: June 23: Randall Packer, Ana Munster, Lindsay Kelley and Anna Munster

This month on –empyre- soft-skinned space we will discuss why fake news has intensified globally in 2017.   While we’ve been hearing a lot about fake news coming from Russia, more often the government’s role as a news source has been displaced by lay writing that has spiraled misinformation via the algorithms of social media.

Educators, news outlets, and social media platforms are revisiting their strategies for discerning fact from fiction. Whether through education or algorithm tweaking, the combat of disinformation is almost as prevalent a topic of news as news itself.  We will spend this month dissecting some of the ramifications from the perspective of art and technology. 

On November 9th, 2016, Erin Tucker took a series of photos of buses in downtown Austin, Texas. Thinking that it was odd to see that many busses he did an initial google search to see if perhaps there was a conference in the downtown area.  The empty search prompted him to conflate the fact that anti-Trump protestors in the area must have been bused via the busses that he had photographed.

Tucker tweeted
 “Anti-Trump protestors in Austin Today are not as organic as they seem.  Here are the busses they came in. #fakeprotests #trump2016 #austin
In the New York Times article “How Fake News Goes Viral: A Case Study,” https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/20/business/media/how-fake-news-spreads.html?_r=0&login=email
reporter Sapna Maheshwari recounts the timeline as to how this one tweet, despite Tucker’s efforts to set the facts straight, were tweeted across social media 5000 times
(including 3000 Facebook users and Donald Trump’s Twitter feed) with the help of right-wing news outlets.

James Carson of the UK’s Telegraph, wrote a short history of the origins of Trump’s usage of the words FAKE NEWS in March of this year reporting that, in his first news conference after
his election, Trump pointed to CNN’s Jim Accosta while declaring,  “You are fake news!” 

Embellishment or manipulation of the truth for gain has been skillfully realized by government entities for centuries. Carson tracks its usage from Marc Anthony during the final war
of the Roman Republic to Britain’s use in motivating its citizens against Nazi Germany, to Nazi Germany’s use of mass media and stereotyping against Jewish citizens.  In World War Ii propaganda was a tool targeting popular culture and mass communication.  We invite empyreans to reflect on the particular significance of fake news in the digital era.

This month we will look at the notion of fakeness in relationship to news in a global climate through the critical lens of  artists, writers, theorists, and technologists. 

Each week of the month I will be introducing the weeks’ guests and then posting their bios.  Looking forward to the month. 

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Renate Ferro
Visiting Associate Professor
Director of Undergraduate Studies
Department of Art
Tjaden Hall 306
rferro at cornell.edu

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