Never mind Freddie Starr eating anybody’s hamster; Boris Johnson was apparently munching his way through the entire pet shop.
Most of this drivel came in the form of headlines shared from real and unreal news sources, often based on unsubstantiated “research” or revealed by “a major survey” of which no details were given. None of it was convincing; you had to want to believe.
Once, the online “newspaper” was so clearly faked up for the occasion that it carried only one story, alongside a sidebar that read “In this sidebar, you can add text…” et cetera.
I suppose there was some appeal to confirmation bias, or maybe it was just plain stupidity that accounted for the relentless oversharing. I live in a Labour council ward, on a street in which every window instructed me to vote Labour, so I suppose the idea must have been to preach to the converted. Not to convince anybody else.
They were, now I come to think of it with hindsight, throwing their trash at the core vote.
Perhaps in Conservative areas, the clumsy fakery was directed at Jeremy Corbyn. I don’t know. Maybe. But.
I did quietly laugh at a friend’s blog post in which she claimed that “According to First Draft who analysed the ads used by all parties in the first four days of December, Tory Facebook ads were 88% misleading, against Labour’s 0%.”
No disrespect to First Draft and never mind the advertising*; I know what was being thrown at me via Facebook.
No, I’m not making a political point; yes, I’m sure the other side are just as bad; now, can we get on?
About half-way through the campaign, I spoke to an official Labour person (who happens to be a friend) about all the mendacious, vindictive, not-even-half-true [expletive deleted] that was coming my way. Private conversation. “It’s hurting us,” was the response.
And I think that’s the take-away for me. Fake news reveals the character of the faker. It traduces its own side of the argument. To do anything else – indeed, to be effective at all – it has to be more than thrown-together nonsense.
And it never is. Even in a big-time serious even-the-Russians-must-be-watching global-headline event like a British general election, the fake news is done so badly that it doesn’t work.
I find that reassuring.
*Except – maybe Facebook advertising does work? Worrying thought.
In the separate Life & Arts section, there was a front-page story about the trend towards creating “virtual celebrities” – people who don’t exist, who express views, endorse products, attract followers.
A company named A-fun Interactive has a “soul-extractor” room in which the likenesses of real people are taken for the construction of their avatars.
There are avatars of real people operating independently - avatars of real people who have passed through that room - and also there are “virtual celebrities” who don’t exist anywhere at all. These truly virtual celebrities are likenesses of nothing - likenesses of the void.
They express views. They endorse products. They don't exist.
Having written several pieces recently about fake news, for example above the picture, I don’t know how to take this.
Perhaps our lives, like the print editions of newspapers, are separated into sections.
In the politics section, we’re bothered by fake news. In the culture section, we’re excited by the building of totally fake people.
Perhaps next time, in five years or however long, politicians’ avatars will tour the constituencies denouncing the other side’s use of fake news.
While their souls stay at home.