Fake News of the Future



I've been avoiding talking too much about the recently completed US presidential election. I've some very strong opinions on it but it's motivated me to relaunch my political blog where I can have a place to focus on it and leave my geeky blog here relatively nonpartisan.

One aspect of the recent election that has caught my eye which does have applicability to fiction and RPGs is the prevalence of "fake news". For example, I saw the following on my Facebook feed a few gazillion times:


The problem with that quote is Trump never said that. For good measure, here is a quote that Clinton never said:


These sorts of fake quotes were a serious problem during the recent election, as were news sites which treated them as real. And partisan news sites that took a real story and slanted it beyond recognition to fit a certain world view.

As our world becomes more and more digital, this will become a greater problem. How hard would it be to inject a totally fictional character into history. There is a non-fiction book which describes Julia Child as a member of the [fictional] Delta Green organization. That was caught, but what if it wasn't and got reused over and over again. And while that happened with a book, think of how easy it would be to inject someone digitally into history. Going into cyberpunk ideas, consider the possibility of hacking into a newspaper's digital archives and inserting a false story.

What strikes me is with all of our instant access to information, our ability to verify a fact sometimes actually becomes more difficult. 

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