The truth will set you free is a common saying in academic circles that promotes the power of learning. However, before academia, Jesus said this in John 8:32. He was speaking of a higher form of knowledge. His followers will not only accept His teachings as truth, but they will also obey them.
For the past three years, Americans have been slowly desensitized from what is truth. Journalists are described as being part of the elite or deep state. President Trump has been very successful in getting his base to believe that news outlets are the enemy of the state.
While the truth has only one lane, a lie can constantly change lanes and makes it harder to refute. This President and his administration have lied so much that they have made the words alternative facts an acceptable term.
According to the Washington Post, as of December 10th Trump has told 15,413 lies since taking office. He effectively uses his Twitter account to weaponize and amplify his lies. And he lies about everything.
He uses four tactics in his misinformation campaign, first he dismisses anyone that is critical of him; then he distorts the issues by making up facts; then he distracts by accusing his critics of the very things he is guilty of; and finally he conjures up false claims of something being a national security issue.
His tactics are the same propaganda tactics used by Russia and other totalitarian governments. The goal is not necessarily to present one argument against another, but to give multiple arguments, and create a sense that there is no real truth.
Trump does not only discredit media; he discredits science, the Democratic party, and even his own military and intelligence agencies. Even though his claims have no basis in the truth, the constant repetition by Trump makes these claims truth for his most ardent supporters.
President Trump said at one of his recent rallies, “What you’re seeing and what you’re reading isn’t what’s happening.” In other words, you don’t believe your lying eyes…
A recent poll showed that 91% of Trump supporters believe he is where they go for accurate information. This shows that people are drawn to misinformation that confirms their point of view.
News sources that support this administration, i.e., Fox News, constantly repeat his lies, and at the same time, block out all rebuttals. According to a December 2018 Suffolk University polling, 67% of Republicans named Fox News as the most trusted outlet for news.
According to research by Soroush Vosoughi, PhD., real human Twitter users are 70% more likely to retweet fake news than truthful stories. People like novelty and they like to share it with others. Vosoughi’s research also highlighted the role emotions play when it comes to sharing news on social media.
Reading true news mostly produces feelings of joyfulness, unhappiness, expectation, and trust. Reading fake news produces feelings of amazement, anxiety, shock, and repulsion. The researcher suggests that these emotions and feelings play an important role when deciding to share something on social media.
Social media platforms, Facebook, in particular, have conflated free speech with paid speech. This platform has allowed lies to be spread unchecked through paid ads. They also allow these lies to target particular demographics by the use of algorithms, which makes it difficult to get to the truth.
For the past few months, Donald Trump has used his tactic of repetition to dumb down the Impeachment process. He’s claimed at least 60 times that the Whistleblower’s account of his call with the Ukrainian President was inaccurate. He has also said over 80 times that the call was perfect.
Not until the Whistleblower’s information became public was the $391 million in aid released to Ukraine to help them in their war against Russia.
During the Impeachment Inquiry of President Trump, Republican Congressman also repeated Trump’s barrage of lies that left many people rolling their eyes and disengaging completely from the hearings.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump stated that he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and get away with it. Republican Senators response to the president’s pending impeachment trial is a perfect analogy of that statement.
Ever since he won the election, President Trump has continued to spread the lie that it wasn’t Russia who meddled in the 2016 election or who hacked the DNC computer network.
Along with trying to get the Ukraine president to open an investigation into Joe and Hunter Biden; Trump has been peddling a conspiracy theory, some speculate was started by Paul Manafort, that a Ukrainian company called CrowdStrike has the DNC Server and refuses to turn it over to the FBI.
CrowdStrike is an American owned Cyber Security Company, located in Sunnyvale, California. This company has been involved in high profile cyber-attack investigations, including the 2016 Democratic National Committee cyber-attack. By discrediting CrowdStrike it helps Russia’s cyber-attacks on the West to continue and may also help Donald Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign.
Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts. It is important that we decipher fact from fiction. Social media platforms and Internet sites should not be our sole source for news. It’s important that before we share possible misinformation, we check it out with several reliable news sources.
The last thing we need in 2020 is a repeat of 2016.