Economics of fake news

Scott Shane for the New York Times:

Within a few days, the story, which had taken him 15 minutes to concoct, had earned him about $5,000. That was a sizable share of the $22,000 an accounting statement shows he made during the presidential campaign from ads for shoes, hair gel and web design that Google had placed on his site.

He had put in perhaps half an hour a week on the fake news site, he said, for a total of about 20 hours.

What an asshole. Seriously.

Canary in the coal mine

Christopher Glazek writing for The Outline:

“The problem is that with Gawker gone there was no one around willing to proudly play the heel and do the wrong thing.” While publishing the full dossier might have been off-brand for Vox, we should be grateful that BuzzFeed is filling some of the vacuum left by Peter Thiel’s vengeful erasure of the political left’s most influential rumor board.

The outcome of the Gawker lawsuit, and subsequent shuttering of the website, was the canary in the coal mine. We now have a president who hates the media, who now has a very recent playbook for taking publications down.

Fighting fake news with fake news is not the answer. The political left is still trying to figure out how to ethically combat those who have no problems fighting dirty. I sure hope we figure it out soon.

It’s been a long journey

  1. The launch of the 24-hour news cycle thanks to cable news
  2. The Daily Show showing the government’s spin machine and the news media’s hypocrisy
  3. The tea party/conservative radio amplifying the disdain and distrust of the media
  4. The internet/Facebook flooding users with content (both real and not) with both sides calling the other “fake”
  5. Not a single person that can appeal to both sides of this widening rift
  6. Donald Trump

Finally getting featured in Fortune Magazine

Elizabeth Dwoskin for the Wall Street Journal:

Computer programs that scan facial expressions have been used to detect whether people respond positively to commercials or whether hospital patients are in pain. Can they also read a CEO’s mind?

James Cicon thinks they can. A finance professor at University of Central Missouri, Cicon built software that analyzed video of the faces of Fortune 500 executives for signs of emotions like fear, anger, disgust, and surprise. The emotions, he found, correlated with profit margins, returns on assets, stock price moves, and other measures of performance at the associated companies.

“What do you think of my profile in Fortune Magazine?…I look what? The shares are what?…Oh.”

Berenst#in Bears hit close to home

Nightmares are much more powerful when you’re younger. I can’t really remember any bad dreams I’ve had over the past five years (although I’m sure that I had them) but I still vividly remember a nightmare I had at age five when a wolf was stalking our family van. I was looking out the back of the car after I thought we lost him, only to have his head appear around the corner of a building and turn to look at us. That seemingly innocuous dream influenced my sleeping position for months, afraid that if I ended up in the same position I’d fall back into that dream. While the finer details are now gone (I know the dream was much longer), I still can pinpoint that nightmare as a major event in my young life.

There was another nightmare that I had as a child that’s a little more fuzzy. In fact, I don’t remember a single detail. But here’s the weird part: I vividly remember not ever remembering a single detail. In the days and weeks that followed this event, I couldn’t tell you what took place in the dream. I only knew the subject of the dream: the Berenstein Bears.

It wasn’t one of those dreams that wakes you with a start. In fact, it wasn’t even a dream that comes back to you in when you open your eyes in the morning. Instead, I remember seeing a Berenstein Bears book and getting a sudden jolt of dread. Of re-remembering something terrible. I couldn’t place my finger on what it was. Some sort of deja vu. It must have been because of an unremembered nightmare.

This happened in the early ’90s. The memory had lied completely dormant, until The Berenst#in Bears Theory started growing in popularity.

I’m not submitting my experience as proof one way or the other. But this is a 100% true story, and I’m feeling all weird inside now.