On Sunday, the site Mediaite reported that the top result on a Google search for “final election vote count 2016” was a link to a story on a website called 70News that wrongly stated that Mr. Trump, who won the Electoral College, was ahead of his Democratic challenger, Hillary Clinton, in the popular vote.
By Monday evening, the fake story had fallen to No. 2 in a search for those terms.
I’m not sure there is a positive correlation between news story rank and people believing the news story. During the election, I read many news stories that I thought were questionable, including the story mentioned above. I Googled it and read both the fake news story, other news stories, and government websites to ascertain the truth. No doubt my search and click on the fake news story elevated it’s page rank, however, I certainly did not believe the story after additional research.
The slope slippery. Does the addition of humor exclude a news article from censorship? The article mentions The Onion, which tends to lean left. I doubt conservatives would think the satire justifies the publication of the admittedly fake news story. The difference is that The Onion is known to be fake.
Still, I feel my foot sliding.
At some point, the electorate needs to accountable for doing its own due diligence. We don’t do a very good job teaching life skills, e.g., balancing checkbooks, understanding compound interest, questioning what we read on the Internet.