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What Do We Do When the Internet Mob Is Wrong? 361

Posted by Soulskill
from the blame-it-on-everyone-else-and-walk-away-whistling dept.
New submitter cornicefire writes "By now most people have heard the news and seen the picture of the boy who was killed over the new Nike sneakers. There are Facebook pages devoted to fist-shaking protests about materialism and greed. Yada yada yada. But while the scuffles over the shoes were real, the death was not. The photo was just a stock photo of some kid in a lab. We know this because of some old school reporters — Steve Earley and Justin Fentin of the Baltimore Sun. In the rush to celebrate crowdsourcing, many of us pooh-pooh the old media as 'gatekeepers,' but there are times when keeping that gate locked is a good idea. After all, if one of the crowd discovered the error, the signal would barely rise above the noise. There are people claiming that anyone questioning the facts is being disrespectful. Is there something we can do about the mobocracy? How can we support the best traditions of journalism while fixing the worst? How can we nurture accuracy?"
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What Do We Do When the Internet Mob Is Wrong?

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  • Nurturing accuracy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by colinrichardday (768814) <colin.day.6@hotmail.com> on Saturday December 24, 2011 @01:35PM (#38482950)

    Nurturing accuracy will require a cultural change, from our schools up.

    • by olderphart (787517) on Saturday December 24, 2011 @01:46PM (#38483052)

      Well, there used to be this thing call "journalism". See, first you make up a story that Advances The Narrative, then you create evidence for it (in a font that wasn't invented at the time it was supposed to happen), and then you're Dan Rather. Truthiness rules!

      Snark aside, the rules of the Old Journalism worked moderately well when they were followed. I think our current chaotic information pool will improve in quality as honest brokers of info bundling and verification services emerge and thus develop a reputation. Which will make them powerful, and interesting targets for corruption... Big wheel keeps on turnin'.

      • by colinrichardday (768814) <colin.day.6@hotmail.com> on Saturday December 24, 2011 @02:00PM (#38483170)

        I think our current chaotic information pool will improve in quality as honest brokers of info bundling and verification services emerge and thus develop a reputation.

        Developing such a reputation only matters if people want accurate information.

      • by miserere nobis (1332335) on Saturday December 24, 2011 @02:31PM (#38483444)

        I think our current chaotic information pool will improve in quality as honest brokers of info bundling and verification services emerge and thus develop a reputation.

        I have been hoping for this outcome, but there is a lot of reason to believe it is unlikely. One reason is that, when it comes to mass social media-developed stories, the brokers are everyone, and honest news sources can be overwhelmed and lost in the noise. To prevent this, every person has to regard him- or herself as a journalist with an obligation to check things before posting them, tweeting them, or otherwise passing them along. Given how well this has worked with all of the incredibly unbelievable urban legends that continue to be propagated via email despite easy fact checking, I have a feeling a lot more people find it easier to click "share" than to take time to look something up carefully.

        The other reason I worry about this is that reputations themselves hold value and therefore are regularly sold off just like any other assets. How many companies are there that have developed a reputation for high quality, over many years, and then someone realized that if they put the same brand name on a lesser product, they could sell more of it at lesser cost. Sure, it diminishes the brand, but that takes time, and the profits are immediate. Furthermore, our culture (at least in the U.S.) has gradually devalued actual honesty (the foundation of a reputation) in favor of branding (the imagery of a reputation). Most troubling, personal honesty itself is not considered important. What is a paid endorsement, really? It is putting up your reputation for sale. Yet this is accepted without question as the best way to cash in on one's status as a trusted person. To see this in action out in the masses, how many bloggers, after building up a following, begin accepting "sponsored posts"? Vast numbers of them, and many have probably never even realized there is a moral dimension to this at all, it's just a way to earn money. If they have thought about it, they probably have never taken it seriously enough to actually refuse to do it, because looking at it as a form of dishonesty would be a "fringe" view in our present culture, and therefore easily dismissed regardless of its accuracy. So what I worry about is that, unless we somehow foster an actual cultural change, we'll wind up with just a continued bombardment of unchecked "facts" mixed with an endless succession of people and institutions that build up a trusted reputation and then cash out.

    • by CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) on Saturday December 24, 2011 @01:48PM (#38483068)

      That's true and not only of the "internet mob." Traditional media, with a few exceptions, have also gone this route of going with sensational hot news without fact checking and then burying corrections later. The only difference is that the masses read the internet (or at least the channels through which news reaches them such as Facebook) and that news spreads instantaneously instead of over a couple of days.

      • by Rockoon (1252108) on Saturday December 24, 2011 @02:12PM (#38483282)
        Its not just sensational news.

        The modern media is He Said, She Said. Instead of investigative journalism and getting to the bottom of the story, all they do is tell you what people (such as politicians) are saying.

        Name the media outlet that managed to inform us that in 2000, when credit default swaps were being deregulated, that the House vote for deregulation went 292 to 60:

        133 to 51 on the Republican side.
        157 to 9 on the Democrat side.

        Instead of reporting that (simple to find facts), they cut to a sound-bites of either (a) Democrats blaming the Republicans or (b) Republicans defending themselves from the accusation.

        Stop listening to them. Start watching them. You can't watch with the television on, because thats just listening to what they are saying rather than watching what they are doing.
      • Traditional media, with a few exceptions, have also gone this route of going with sensational hot news without fact checking and then burying corrections later.

        There's more fact-checking than you think - most media won't report on a story unless another trusted agency reports it first or it's confirmed by the agency directly (via first-hand reporting or official confirmation). Yes. there's a rush to be "first", but often the info that needs correcting actually comes from the "official" sources (government,

        • by rev0lt (1950662)
          The news don't come only from agency reports. Most newspapers and TV channels have their own reporters doing hum, "investigative" journalism. More often than not, most of this "investigative" journalism follows the guidelines of whoever is writing the checks instead of a code of conduct.
          What amuses me is people thinking that this is somewhat a "new media" problem. Go check newspapers from a century ago, and you'll see that the problem was far far worse back then, and that we have access not only to the new
      • >Traditional media, with a few exceptions, have also gone this route of going with sensational hot news without fact checking and then burying corrections later.

        ^^Absolutely^^.

        The point completely renders irrelevant the uninformed front page story.

        Thread/discussion over.

      • by realityimpaired (1668397) on Saturday December 24, 2011 @02:34PM (#38483480)

        With few exceptions, yes. And I think it's telling that the most prominent of those few exceptions is one of the only 24hr News channels that you can't get in the US: Al-Jazeera.

    • by perpenso (1613749) on Saturday December 24, 2011 @02:03PM (#38483214)

      Nurturing accuracy will require a cultural change, from our schools up.

      Perhaps it is more important to teach not believing everything that you read. Especially on the internet where there is little barrier to being published.

      To instill some sort of ability to judge credibility. For example, two people make conflicting medical claims. One is an unknown but licensed medical doctor who trained at a well regarded university and the other is a famous and popular actress. That the actress' lack of relative credibility would require extraordinary evidence of her claims.

      • Once the people that grow up creating such false histories (or knowing who created them) gets into the majority, people will trust a little less what they read on the net.

      • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Saturday December 24, 2011 @02:16PM (#38483304)

        Perhaps it is more important to teach not believing everything that you read.

        Critical thinking is the most important thing school can teach a person.
        Unfortunately it seems to get pretty short shrift in much of the curriculum.

        • Critical thinking is the most important thing school can teach a person.

          But to what extent can one teach critical thinking? Is critical thinking a skill? Or is it a habit of mind that must be cultivated?

          • But to what extent can one teach critical thinking? Is critical thinking a skill? Or is it a habit of mind that must be cultivated?

            In practice, I don't think there is much difference between your two choices.

            However, a big problem with applying critical thinking skills is that it also requires good domain knowledge to be particularly useful. However, I'd be happy if most people had enough critical thinking skills to simply realize when they don't have enough domain knowledge to come to a useful conclusion. Better to hold no opinion at all than one built on a poor foundation.

    • by Jhon (241832)

      Remember "Memo Gate"?

      Maybe the "crowd" is better at keeping things accurate than reporting them accurately?

    • by shentino (1139071)

      What incentive do people have to be accurate when accepting bribes to skew the facts is so much more profitable?

      Face it, the truth twisters have an edge and aren't afraid to use it to further their advantage.

    • by InlawBiker (1124825) on Saturday December 24, 2011 @02:42PM (#38483540)

      Slashdot itself is guilty of promoting unfounded blog posts/rumors as news, practically every day. For profit. Journalism is on life support.

    • by ShakaUVM (157947)

      >>Nurturing accuracy will require a cultural change, from our schools up.

      As long as by "accuracy" you mean "people agreeing with us", sure.

      Here's a link to what actually happened at the infamous UC Davis pepper spraying:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hhPdH3wE0_Y#t=8m [youtube.com]

      An agitprop guy tells the campus police that "If you let [the prisoners] go, we will let you leave". This false imprisonment bit is the crucial part of the story that got edited out of the YouTube video that went viral and became the face

  • by Colin Smith (2679) on Saturday December 24, 2011 @01:35PM (#38482952)

    You should be out selling them hot dogs. That's what mobs are for.
     

  • Not much to be done (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 24, 2011 @01:37PM (#38482964)

    We had a similar event earlier this year near where I live. A kid, in that case, did die. Everyone thought the lad had over-dosed and died and the followed two weeks were a blur of cries for tougher drug control, better drug programs, editorials on how irresponsible youth are, etc etc etc. But a few of us, having read the report, noted the cause of death probably wasn't really drug related and the autopsy confirmed this. However no one wanted to hear it. Any comment about what really happened was shouted down in the anti-drug fervor.

    There isn't much you can do against a mob, even one which is obviously wrong. Just wait it out and quietly try to educate people one at a time I suppose.

    • by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardprice&gmail,com> on Saturday December 24, 2011 @01:52PM (#38483108)

      Equally, the MMR-causes-autism outcry a few years ago - the report had long been discredited, but for some reason it suddenly became a huge thing for many groups, causing massive public anger.

      Same goes for the recent UEA climategate - nothing the scientists did was wrong, everything in the emails was almost deliberately taken out of context and much hilarity ensued.

    • by cheekyjohnson (1873388) on Saturday December 24, 2011 @01:58PM (#38483162)

      Isn't allowing your emotions to control you great? You should do it all the time (especially when thinking about the children)!

    • Why bother. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 24, 2011 @02:37PM (#38483502)

      There isn't much you can do against a mob, even one which is obviously wrong. Just wait it out and quietly try to educate people one at a time I suppose.

      Doesn't work.

      I shut up. Let folks stay ignorant - they won't believe you otherwise. And use their ignorance to manipulate them.

      I'm not alone. Just look at what's happening in the Republican primaries. Here you have relatively well educated people spewing non-sense, lies and misinformation to pander to the ignorant masses. Does anyone really think Newt Gingrich is as stupid as he appears? Or Bachman? Cain? Perry (- Ok, maybe Perry is that stupid.)

      I don't.

      I see them as manipulating the public , using the public's own ignorance and contempt of facts and rational thinking and praying on their emotions.

      That's what it has come to: emotional indulgence and the inability or lack of desire to gather the facts and look at an issue rationally. Careful study and self-education is out of the question. People want to be told what to believe. They don't want ugly truth - truth that's always a shade of gray and never black and white - right or wrong - good or evil - or any other childish binary thought.

      Emotion and ego are like a drug. "I'm right - you're wrong and there's no two ways about it!" has become our society's mantra and it's leading us to a downfall. And some, Rupert Murdoch for one, have become quite rich and powerful taking advantage of this.

      • by khallow (566160)

        Emotion and ego are like a drug. "I'm right - you're wrong and there's no two ways about it!" has become our society's mantra and it's leading us to a downfall.

        Just like it was at the beginning of the US? This has always been with us and has always been a problem, yet we still managed to build a society on rational principles. It's interesting that you complain about Republican presidential candidates and then segue into this rant. I find that people who can't get others to agree with them seem susceptible to this belief.

        My view on politicians is very simple. I'm only interested in what they will do, not their beliefs, not whether they believe they're pulling s

    • by fermion (181285)
      I was thinking that this is typical of any situation where someone wants to believe something that conflicts with known fact. Such mob delusion predates any technology one wants to name. We see it with the consistent denial that some preist were systematically having sexual relations with minors and some higher up in the Church were sanctioning such relations. Typically the primarily method to quash such facts that are inconsistent with desired truth is to call them 'disrespectful'. I would say that usi
  • by rubycodez (864176) on Saturday December 24, 2011 @01:39PM (#38482980)
    the people who immerse themselves in social media, who believe rumors without question, who only worry about other's opinions and so are easily swayed, are just dumber than sack of shit regardless of how high their IQ. Over half the populace is like that, very scary
  • by landofcleve (1959610) on Saturday December 24, 2011 @01:39PM (#38482984)
    Your local newspaper is regulated by law to check it's sources and it's facts before printing.
  • by jonbryce (703250) on Saturday December 24, 2011 @01:40PM (#38482996) Homepage

    Looks very much like a PR stunt from Nike to me, to get out the message "our shoes are so good that people are fighting and killing each other to get them".

  • by Animats (122034) on Saturday December 24, 2011 @01:42PM (#38483010) Homepage

    The real issue is whether Nike was behind the hype. Nike isn't that cool any more, and Michael Jordan is a has-been jock. They're the parties that would benefit from this. Follow the money.

    • by honestmonkey (819408) on Saturday December 24, 2011 @02:06PM (#38483238) Journal
      YEAH! NIKE WAS BEHIND THIS! LET'S ALL GO GET THEM!

      I've got a batch of torches and pitchforks here I'll sell you all real cheap.
    • Whether Nike was behind the hype or not is moot. The fact is they drummed up enough chaos to make their product relevant again. That's marketing, and somebody has to do it.

      Jordan a has-been? Maybe.....Jordan an Icon? Certainly. This is 'merica and we celebrate our sports heroes damnit! You dont have to be an avid sports fan to know names like Babe Ruth, Larry Bird, Wayne Gretzky or Joe Frazier and what they've done in their respective sports to become household names.
  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot AT hackish DOT org> on Saturday December 24, 2011 @01:42PM (#38483018)

    Rustle up an internet mob to punish this despicable lack of accuracy!

  • by b4dc0d3r (1268512) on Saturday December 24, 2011 @01:43PM (#38483030)

    People who have been proven right time after time, such as Snopes or the Bad Astronomy guy, are frequently cited as rebuttals.

    Having an internet-wide identity, such as Open ID (and specifically not FaceBook or a government supplied ID), allowing people to gain reputation, and override other peoples' posts, or at least be placed higher, is really the only way to do this everywhere.

    Just as with slashdot moderation, it will be possible to game the system, if you respond rationally everywhere except one issue where you feel strongly about. And it would be nice if your reputation could be classified so that you can have a good reputation on some subjects, but automatically junkpiled on other topics.

    As it stands, fact checkers who don't have an axe to grind are the only voices of reason, and you basically have to educate people about the fact checker being cited, but not so much that it looks like you are unquestioning of their lack of bias.

    Making the internet personal again, so you are talking with actual people (virtually, not their real identities necessarily). Not arguing with text on a page. [penny-arcade.com]

    • by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardprice&gmail,com> on Saturday December 24, 2011 @02:02PM (#38483200)

      Just as with slashdot moderation, it will be possible to game the system, if you respond rationally everywhere except one issue where you feel strongly about. And it would be nice if your reputation could be classified so that you can have a good reputation on some subjects, but automatically junkpiled on other topics.

      The problem with that, which is also the main problem with slashdots moderation system, is that it largely depends on the group of people taking part in the moderation, and it completely depends on their opinions. You can be completely rational on topics, backed with facts, and still be modded to oblivion because other people simply don't like your view, it isn't what they want to hear.

      Many topics on slashdot suffer from such, including copyright issues, negative views on android etc.

      Just because you have a good or bad reputation with one group doesn't mean that reputation is automatically of value to anyone else.

    • by Vellmont (569020) on Saturday December 24, 2011 @05:16PM (#38484566)


      People who have been proven right time after time, such as Snopes or the Bad Astronomy guy, are frequently cited as rebuttals.

      Snopes indeed has a very good, and well deserved reputation. But yet I still hear people relatively intelligent people repeating the Cruise Control in a Winnebago lawsuit myth, or the Stella McDonald's spilled hot coffee half-truth. Both of those claims are more than a decade old, and very easily shown to be completely wrong. Yet people STILL tell these stories as if they were true.

      The problem isn't one of lack of accurate authorities, or the social proof of the accurate authority. The problem is that people are far too willing to accept a story, passed down umpteen times that generally came from their friend, family member or acquaintance. The friend offers the social proof, because the friend believes the story and you trust the friend. Scepticism, or asking for evidence doesn't come into it, since that would involve doubting the friend.

      The truth about the myths travels much more slowly, primarily because there's little punch to be gained from telling a story about how something turned out to be wrong. The mythos stories have great explanatory, validation, or "gee whiz cool" embedded within them. I.e. "blame it on those damn lawyers!", or the egg standing up during the equinox myth. One of my favourites, (that many very well educated people will argue with me about openly) is that silica glass is actually a liquid that flows at room temperature, and that's why old windows are thicker at the bottom. In case you didn't know, window glass used to be made through a process that made it thicker at one end, which was usually installed thick end down. I've also read through umpteen scientific evidence about glass, and silica glass is defined as an amorphous solid, that doesn't observably flow at room temperature.

  • Journal organizations need to practice credibility. Credibility is built over time with trustworthy news reporting. The problem is most organizations have fallen to the dark side of profit and tabloidism and can never come back. Their credibility is lost for good.

    Individuals need to practice skepticism and critical thought. Then they can identify credible news sources by paying attention. Alternatively, by recognizing logical fallacies an individual can read between the lines and extract newsworthy data emb

  • Even if this story is false, the sheer amount of violence over Air Jordan's over the years has been staggering. I remember as a kid living in a rust belted inner city and there were people shot and robbed of their Shoes.

  • by LostCluster (625375) * on Saturday December 24, 2011 @01:49PM (#38483080)

    Astroturfers are easy to spot... they have a high follow count but a low follower count. Nike needs to get better advertising staff... just jamming twitter/facebook updates with their ad may lose more customers than it gains.

  • by perpenso (1613749) on Saturday December 24, 2011 @01:51PM (#38483096)
    The rush to get a story out first is hardly anything new, nor is the inevitable occasional false reporting. "Dewey Defeats Truman", Chicago Tribune, 1948. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dewey_Defeats_Truman [wikipedia.org].
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      For the Chicago Tribune, they wanted to beat publishing deadline. So they made two articles in advance and were just waiting to hit the button. Wrong button was hit. As I recall, CNN also has pre-made obituaries of celebrities and head of states so all they have to do is tweak the date of death and hit publish in 10 minutes.

      What's different in this Nike-murder story is that it borrows from facts and the rest is fabricated. It's like saying "Truman defeats Dewey but is Abducted by Aliens."

      Also, newspapers pu

    • by iluvcapra (782887)

      In 1948, a newspaper getting a headline wrong was literally an historic, once-in-a-decade happenstance that people still joke about. Social media getting its headline wrong isn't usually funny, because it happens daily.

      Speaking of old newspaper men, people who believe in social media should really read some H. L. Menken, who would probably call the whole project "news-by-boob-boisie" and could point to examples of social media (also known as "gossip") as a major dissemination medium for racial hatred, propa

  • by Torodung (31985) on Saturday December 24, 2011 @01:52PM (#38483110) Journal

    What do we do about this? Wrong idea. Each one of us does something about it individually. You think for yourself; you vet things yourself; you don't worry about the rest of the "crowd" and how they might be deceived. Evolution only has you socially rigged up to truly affect about 150 people, max, anyway.

    But, if everyone carries out that solemn responsibility, things will be fine. Problem is, because of a lingering reliance on big media, most people don't. And it was a serious problem back in the days before crowdsourcing too, because the "gatekeepers" have told some whoppers over the last century or so. This was especially true around the time of Goebbels and WW II, and it has never recovered since, despite all the best intentions of journalistic integrity. The journalists did their best to hold the lie machines at bay, but that time has long since passed. A few decades ago, by my reckoning.

    So, the horse has been out of the barn for at least that long, and we are talking about shutting the gate? Now? What the hell, folks? Mass media is a lie machine, and it functions because it is a lie machine, and all we've done is given the keys to the lie machine to everyone, instead of only the "gatekeepers." That, by my yardstick, is a profoundly good thing, although it will take a period of adjustment to become used to it.

    Personal responsibility and a ready supply of grains of salt is all we have left. Don't believe everything you read. Since CGI advances, don't believe everything you see either. Welcome to the Brave New World. IMHO, it's a "good thing," but you have to be careful what you choose to believe these days.

    • by houghi (78078)

      What do we do about this? Wrong idea. Each one of us does something about it individually. You think for yourself; you vet things yourself; you don't worry about the rest of the "crowd" and how they might be deceived.

      So basically you are saying that we are all individuals. Well, I am not.

  • Flip side... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Lord Dreamshaper (696630) <lord_dreamshaper@ya h o o . ca> on Saturday December 24, 2011 @01:53PM (#38483128)
    Flip side of the coin is the "old guard" burying stories because it doesn't serve their corporate masters and/or because the truth about a news story isn't sensational or lurid enough. Old journalism used to be relatively honest, because lets face it, there's always been plenty of corrupt/stupid/greedy corporations/politicians/public figures, and exposing them was sensational enough to sell copy without sacrificing integrity. That integrity can no longer be assumed and so "old" journalism has just as much upside & downside as "new" journalism. It's up to us to learn to separate the signal from noise when the name of the game is to bury us in noise.
  • Sensationalism. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MrCrassic (994046) <<li.ame> <ta> <detacerped>> on Saturday December 24, 2011 @01:59PM (#38483166) Journal
    How can newspapers prioritise accuracy and fairness when its patrons prioritise sensationalism and shock? The fact that nuances in the lives of celebrities can, at times, be more valuable to people than current events around them pronounces this. This element of our society needs to change first before we can begin talking about ways of nurturing accuracy.
  • Mob rule, groupthink (Score:5, Informative)

    by macraig (621737) <mark.a.craig@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Saturday December 24, 2011 @02:00PM (#38483172)

    Welcome to sociopolitical science 101. This behavior is called tyranny of the majority, and it so worried Thomas Jefferson and others who founded the United States that they crafted a new variant of democracy intended to discourage it. At least in politics....

  • by BenBoy (615230) on Saturday December 24, 2011 @02:03PM (#38483218)
    ... and what do we do when the traditional gatekeepers fail us? Same damned thing. Read critically. Read multiple points of view, including those who disagree with you, and draw your own conclusions. Nobody can do that for you, and no system will do that for you.
  • The problem lies not with the "internet mob", nor traditional media reporting, but with the viewership. People are been conditioned to guzzle up any oversensationalized content. It's like when you're used to beating off to increasingly shameful porn, regular old T&A doesn't do it anymore. Well the average "news" consumer has been flooded with the equivalent of japanese torture scat, and barely notices when something perfectly reasonable occurs, or in this case: when a loaded prank gets shoved down th

    • by tunapez (1161697)

      Turning information into entertainment is a genius move for crowd monitoring/control. Further exacerbation of the situation occurs when profit motives encourage and contribute to the misinformations.
       
        Bad information is worse than no information at all, IMO.

  • ...and nuke the entire site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.
  • That seems to be the new export of the US. The question is, after clearing the obfuscations and outright lies what do we have left to offer? Whatever it is, wear high boots and don't count on it boosting the GDP long after the hot air escapes. Tech IPOs, Real Estate Bubbles, rigged markets and shiny baubles built on 40 year old sweat equity. The future's so bright, I gotta wear blinders.

  • by khallow (566160) on Saturday December 24, 2011 @02:24PM (#38483378)
    I'm a bit puzzled as to why this is a story. Old media isn't any better as a whole at gatekeeping than the internet mob is. For example, most news articles are reprints with absolutely no effort to check that the reprint was accurate. And some "old media" are so biased and/or incompetent that I don't consider them a news source such as CNN or Fox News.

    And for the old media sources that do real news reporting, such as the Washington Post, BBC, etc, we also have people in the internet mob doing their own fact checking as well.

    For example, Slashdot does a fair job of real time fact-checking. If you're depending on You Tube (and You Tube comments!) for your news, then there is something very wrong with you.
  • We do nothing (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TheRealGrogan (1660825) on Saturday December 24, 2011 @02:25PM (#38483384)

    It's just something that comes with freedom of information. I don't want other people deciding what I get to know about, so if I have to endure some falsities so be it.

    Bad information will also correct itself on the Internet. (like, umm, now) because anyone can refute that too and not everyone subscribes to the mob mentality.

    I never want to go back to gatekeepers like Rupert Fucking Murdoch controlling information, thank you.

  • This has always been a balancing act, the same questions were raised about allowing non-landholders to vote, allowing women to vote, etc. There need to be editors and judges. But in just as many cases, we need the twittering mob to correct editors who get it wrong.
  • Yup, crowdsourcing gets it wrong a lot. However, traditional media has a long history of not only getting the facts wrong as well, but also for manipulating the facts to generate ratings.
  • by meburke (736645) on Saturday December 24, 2011 @02:48PM (#38483568)

    The original post asked, "What can we do when the internet mob is wrong?" Forget it; most people don't care. Thi8s discussion about the kid who got killed over new Nike shoes came up at work last night. some of the talkers were so outraged that they ranted for over half an hour. When I tell them today that it was a hoax, they will just go, "oops" and continue on as if they didn't waste their time and emotional energy for nothing. Five years from now they will be saying, "Do your remember that time the kid got killed...?" and will have forgotten that it wasn't true.

    In the long term it will mean nothing. What matters is when there are consequences in the short term. Crowds have beaten and killed people when they mistakenly thought a person ran over a little kid, or was a molester, or robbed someplace etc., etc,.. Some sociologists are claiming that Obama go elected on the basis of crowd think and internet mob-ism. (This is not scientific, but I've asked lots of people over the years why they voted for Obama, and NOT ONE of them could tell me anything about his voting record in Illinois or Washington.) Cultural biases are affecting our lives. Friends tell me it was very uncomfortable being a middle eastern person in the USA after 9/11. This type of bias may fade, but when? And how much harm does it do in the meantime?

    Bryan Caplan, and Economist, wrote a book called, "The Myth of the Rational Voter" http://www.amazon.com/Myth-Rational-Voter-Democracies-Policies/dp/0691129428 [amazon.com] , in which he points out that cultural biases against free markets and foreigners, and toward make-work and pessimism are exploited by politicians everywhere.

    I doubt that there is anything we can do to offset the influence of sensationalism and propaganda except expose the facts as well as we can. (Ooops! Pessimism, right?)

    • Some sociologists are claiming that Obama go elected on the basis of crowd think and internet mob-ism. (This is not scientific, but I've asked lots of people over the years why they voted for Obama, and NOT ONE of them could tell me anything about his voting record in Illinois or Washington.)

      I suspect that after eight years of Bush II, Americans would have voted for Satan over the Republicans.

  • ...and then there were the incidents where the gatekeepers, the very people we're supposed to trust, were deliberately wrong, and it took crowsourcing to bring out the truth. That's the problem with gatekeepers. They get to decide what's news. In the instances where they're actually working to bring out the truth, it looks like a good idea. Less so when the gatekeepers are participating a hoax.

    Parenthetically, I'm a little surprised that this didn't solve itself, and I suspect it would have eventually.

  • Wikipedia is a mobocracy, but if even its own members fail to live up to their own policies, what hope is there for any other mobocracy? They are good at gathering information, but have yet to discover a basic mechanism with which to achieve accuracy by automatically weeding out errors...

    ... other than by employing one or more experts/gatekeepers.

  • by lymond01 (314120)

    Migrate all major news and news aggregation sites to slashcode.

    If you need me for anything else, I'll be playing Edgeworld.

  • OMG!!!! (Score:3, Funny)

    by nick357 (108909) on Saturday December 24, 2011 @03:06PM (#38483708)

    Its Christmas Eve and I am really busy, so I only had time to skim the summary, but thats horrible that some kid got killed for his Nikes!!! Especially during this season its important we honor those killed so needlessly - even tho I am very busy, I am taking the time out to tweet in his honor, and post on Facebook my outrage at this kind of senseless violence! You all should do it too.

  • In the book "Ender's Game", Orson Scott Card envisioned Internet forums that are invitation-only. One gets to belong to the more respected forums only by being invited, and that only happens if one proves one's worthiness by contributing quality ideas and information.

    Things sure have not turned out that way. Indeed, today we have a kind of mobocracy. Things are too flat. It is good that the old gatekeepers can be sidestepped, but it is not good that there is so much noise that it is hard to decide what to t

  • What? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by lightknight (213164) on Saturday December 24, 2011 @03:24PM (#38483840) Homepage

    Traditional media is about on-par with the new media, in terms of accuracy-> "Locking the gate" serves no purpose, about as useful as pushing the 'close door' button on an elevator.

    And if you consider the current traditional media's accuracy, which in my humble opinion, is producing lies so transparent even their staff have trouble stomaching it, you realize just how bad things are.

    For some odd reason, people look back to the past as the golden era of journalism, when they reported 'the truth.' History reminds us otherwise: "yellow journalism" is a well-known term from a former era, worth reading about if you have the time. People are just nostalgic about their childhood, when they were brainless, spineless automatons who believed anything they were told; they're having trouble coming to grips with reality -> people lie, often and for no discernible reason; and even the good reasons are pretty terrible, but tradition outweighs common sense, and the people who employ lying the most tend to be the people with the least qualms about murdering people that disagree with them.

    Consider, for your pleasure, the current holiday: Christmas. Parents lie to their kids about a guy in a big red jumpsuit, climbing down a chimney, riding around on a flying sleight with magical reindeer, and dispensing presents on the basis of a metric ("Naughty / Nice") which appears to conform with cultural norms of morality: people celebrate lies, and bury the truth. They love the lies their parents taught them so much, that many of them go on to teach them to their children. Just try telling someone else's kids that Santa is a lie; see if you aren't vilified.

    That's not even touching on the holiday's origins itself. It's turtles all the way down!

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