02/26/2017 — Sharyl Attkisson: What do you define as fake news? Susan Glasser: Well, as a term, right? It's like any term and in fact now you see partisans of both parties appropriating and using this label merely to apply it to news that they don't like. Susan Glasser was editor of the left-leaning Politico during the 2016 campaign.
Glasser: So what started out as a panic over fake news and what role it had in undermining Hillary Clinton's candidacy and promoting Donald Trump's candidacy, by the way is now a label that Donald Trump master marketer has seen is a powerful label so he's appropriated that and slapped that label on stories that he merely doesn't like.
President Trump: You are fake newsgo ahead.
Glasser: It's not that it didn't exist before, but Americans used to know the difference between the National Enquirer at the checkout counter and the New York Times. Public suspicion and allegations of bias hound the most pervasive Internet players: Twitter, Google and Facebook.
Sharyl: During the presidential campaign, critics discovered a Google search for "Hillary Clinton indictment," typing in "IND," didn't suggest "indictment." When you type Hillary Clinton ind into Bing or Yahoo, there are plenty of indictment based recommendations. When you type it into Google the top two recommended autocompletions are Hillary Clinton Indiana and Hillary Clinton India. As it happens, Google's parent company, Alphabet, was a top Clinton donor. Its chief executive worked on the Clinton campaign. Last year, former Facebook insiders alleged they "routinely suppressed news stories of interest to conservative readers."
Sharyl: We hear from a lot of people that they don't trust Politico or Facebook or Google or whoever it might be that's trying to sort through the truth or the facts.
Glasser: We're looking at a crisis of faith in institutions. The media, being one set of institutions that is under assault. More broadly, political parties you know, no longer have the trust and the faith.
Sharyl: Torba claims Twitter censors conservatives, but not liberals for similar behavior. On Gab anything goes, he says, as long as it's legal, not inciting violence and not exposing information like credit cards.
Torba: What we're doing is instead of us playing big brother and you know curating content and deciding what is news and what isn't and what people should see and what they shouldn't, we are giving the power to you as a user so you can mute different words, trends, hashtags, phrases, topics, and users.
Sharyl: Because of Gab's anti-censorship policy, it's attracted plenty of detestable users. Some blogs call it Twitter for Racists and the Alt-Right's very own Twitter.
Torba: The media likes to label us as alt right or they've said, you know, Nazi Twitter or the Twitter for racists. I find it, you know, really funny because we have one of the most diverse starting teams of all time. So we have my co-founder who is a Turkish Kurd and he's also Muslim. We have our chief communications officer who is based in Canada, who is an Indian and a practicing Hindu.
Sharyl: If there's ultimate truth in the debate over manipulation of information-- it may be found in asking not "What can you believe", but "who wants you to believe it, and why?"
Sharyl: Do you favor censoring information that someone has decided is untrue or may blatantly be untrue so that the public can't access it online?
Glasser: I don't. I think that would be a terrible mistake. We have to find a way for truth to regain its value in our public discourse I think, and that's not about stopping people from what is untrue. It's about finding ways to reinvigorate the conversation around which is true and to find out that which those are powerful don't want us to know.
Sharyl: What would your advice be to somebody who's taking part, either in social media or looking for information on the web?
Brown: My advice would be not to believe any of it. Take it all with a grain of salt.