Tag Archives: fake news

Can media be protected by the First amendment when publishing fake news?

Recently, fake news has been a major conflict in today’s media. With many outlets publishing articles to persuade the public politically, it is difficult to find a reliable source. With the First Amendment in place, it is challenging for fake news to be obliterated. Slander and libel is against the law to prevent media outlets from using someone’s name to purposely damage their reputation and cause someone to lose money.  So where do we draw the line?

In 1964, the New York Times published an ad defending Martin Luther King Jr. that included some deceptive language. The safety commissioner, L.B. Sullivan, felt that the ad was slanderous towards him and requested that the Times take down the information. The Times refused, so Sullivan filed for libel action and received $500,000 in compensation.  The First Amendment was put in place to prevent these types of actions from happening in the United States. The lawsuit proves that libel laws could be used improperly to silence a group of people.

Issues arise with slander and libel laws when fake news is a large proportion of media attention today. It has always been the media’s job to accurately inform the public about what is going in the world. News sources such as CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and CBS try to stay clear of fake news, although sometimes it is able to leak through background checks and make it to the public. One of the worst ways of getting news is through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Any account can make up a story a story and post it to their followers to share. This is typically how fake news can spread and affect elections and people’s lives.  With the increase of false information, there are more ways to find out if an article is reliable. The concern is that if fake news was completely wiped out, people may be improperly silenced.

In conclusion, the First Amendment was set into place to protect the press from being constricted or altered by the government. These ideas should still be present in today’s society despite the recent spike in fake news.

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Fake News

Topic: Should the press be allowed to lie under the First Amendment?

In today’s day and age, the press is more focused on selling a story to make money rather than informing the public with real news. More often than not, this means lying or “stretching the truth” to make stories more appealing. For decades, people have been debating whether or not the press should be able to lie under the First Amendment. While there are laws prohibiting libel, there are still many libel cases reported every year since it is difficult to prove libel.

In order to win a libel case today, you must be able to prove that the editor or publisher made false statements knowing them to be untrue or that they were acting with malice. This became a rule after one of the most famous libel cases in history, the 1964 case: New York Times Company v. Sullivan. This case began after the New York Times published an ad requested donations to bail Martin Luther King Jr. out of jail. After reading the ad, Public Safety Commissioner, L.B. Sullivan found that the false information in the article was harmful to the reputation of his team. Sullivan was eventually rewarded $500,000, but that was not the end of this case. After reconsidering the case, Justice William Brennan concluded that under the First and Fourteenth amendments, Sullivan could only prevail a libel suit if he was able to prove that the publisher was acting with malice and intentional falsity. Following this case, libel laws were adjusted to focus on protecting an honestly earned reputation rather than getting compensation for a damaged reputation.

While libel laws have gotten much clearer over the years, there are still issues today that amount from lies published by the press. In a recent poll conducted by Monmouth University, research found that three out of four Americans believe that the media routinely reports fake news. If we can’t rely on the media to report accurate news, then how are we supposed to be aware of what is happening around us? Personally, I believe that our current libel laws have appropriate guidelines, but the punishments are not large enough. I agree with our current laws that require people to prove malicious intent in order to win a libel case. If this was not required, people would sue for libel just because they do not agree with a post. Time and time again, celebrities sue reporting agencies for defamation, but reporting agencies continue to publish lies. If our libel laws had harsher punishments, then maybe news companies would stop publishing fake news. I understand that news companies need to make their stories interesting to attract readers, but they should not be allowed to stretch the truth when it means harming somebody else’s reputation. There is a line between publishing fake news and posting your personal opinion. I believe that individuals should be able to post their opinions online as long as they do not have malicious intent. The goal of stricter libel laws would not be to stop people from sharing their opinions, but rather stopping people from posting misleading and/or harmful information.

The United States is known for protecting freedom of speech under the First Amendment, but there are limitations to this freedom. I believe that our current libel laws allow people to post what they want online, but that can result in defaming statements and accusations. Our libel laws are important to protect us, but they should have stronger punishments in order to protect reputations by preventing the press from publishing harmful articles in the first place. Some small adjustments to our current laws can result in a future with accurate news that is free of harmful comments.

Feeney, Ryan. “Chilling Free Speech.” Quill Vol.96, No.7, Sep. 2008, pp. pp. 28+. SIRS Issues Researcher,

https://sks.sirs.com.

Kirtley, Jane E. “Getting to the Truth: Fake News, Libel Laws, and ‘Enemies of the American People.’” Human

Rights, vol. 43, no. 4, July 2018, p. 6. EBSCOhost,

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MOSKOWITZ, DANIEL B. “Drawing a Line on Libel.” American History, vol. 51, no. 1, Apr. 2019, p. 22.

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ive&scope=site.”New York Times Company v. Sullivan.” Oyez, 25 Feb. 2019, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1963/39.




Is publishing fake news protected by the freedom of the press clause of the First Amendment?

Finding accurate facts on the internet can be difficult, as quality information is hard to come by.  When looking for a credible source, you would almost always choose information from a university over Wikipedia, or from a government website over a local blogger like myself.  But when it comes to an article from the press, can you trust the content that is being published?  Over the past few years, specifically during the 2016 presidential election, the phrase “fake news” has become a common term associated with mainstream medias.  The question is, should publishing fake news be protected by the freedom of the press clause of the First Amendment, or is it a wrong and possibly illegal act?

Fake news has become a powerful tool that many news networks and media companies use to sway their audience into thinking a certain way about a person or topic.  For instance, in the past presidential election, fake news was published from both left and right leaning medias, trying to influence people to think poorly of Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.  A few of these articles included sources claiming that Trump was a “puppet” of Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, or that Clinton should be put in prison, rather than in office. When you dig deeper into these articles however, you find that there is little to no credibility, and they seem to not be written by people who seek the truth, but by people who have a strong disliking for these political figures.

Unfortunately, trying to get people to agree with them through falsifying information isn’t the worst thing that fake news has brought to the public.  In 2016, the Washington Times published an editorial in their paper describing the murder of Seth Rich, an employee of the Democratic National Committee.  In the article, they claimed that he leaked DNC emails to Wikileaks and was killed in response to these actions.  Even though it was published in the paper and online, there were no facts or evidence to back up this claim. His brother Aaron Rich, and the rest of his family were outraged over this false claim, and filed a lawsuit over it.  In September of 2018, Aaron Rich reached a settlement with the Washington Times, and dropped the lawsuit after the Washington Times issued a public apology and retracted the article from their publishings.

It is my opinion that fake news is a harmful method of political propaganda that should be made illegal.  It has done much more harm than good in our country, and across the world for that matter. Freedom of the press is a very important clause of the First Amendment, but the people should be able to trust that what the media is publishing is truthful and can be backed up with evidence.  If media companies only posted the truth, it would leave people feeling a lot less confused, and give us a better understanding of what is truly going on in the United States.

Works Cited:

Emanuel, Daniella. “Should Fake News Be Battled in the Courts?” CNN, Cable News Network, 7 Oct. 2018, Web, 27 Feb. 2019.

Meyer, Robinson. “The Grim Conclusions of the Largest-Ever Study of Fake News.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 12 Mar. 2018, Web, 27 Feb. 2019.

Staffers, Carl. “Fake News, Fake Data: How Bad Data and Misleading Graphs Are Fueling Fake News.” Badgerlink, 4 Mar. 2017, Web, 27 Feb. 2019.

Lies for Clicks

What if I were to tell you that, “President Trump Declares War on California!” Would you believe it? Would you even read the article or would you just click the little ‘share now’ button? Well, believe it or not, that little false statement of mine is apart of America’s current problem… Fake News.

Many people ask, “What is this ‘Fake News’?” Well, so-called fake news can come in many different forums. Such programs like Saturday Night Live’s (SNL) Weekend Update or The Onion focus on making fake news based on comedy or satire. These articles or skits are mainly used as forms of entertainment. While others may focus on producing ‘clickbait’. Article titles such as “The Secret They Don’t Want You to Know” or “The Trick They Hate” can be found all over Facebook, and on tabloids, such as Globe. These ‘clickbait’ titles are meant to get the best of their reader. They make the article seem so enticing that you have to click it. Only to be disappointed. Disappointed because you either saw/watched 30 seconds of ads for a lie or you actually bought that tabloid. Quoting Jim Gaffigan, “…momentary pleasure followed by incredible guilt…” (Mr. Universe) That is all clickbait really is, it’s false information that we are so desperately curious about… only to be lied to.  

Now one may be asking, “Can we stop it?”. Well, it is hard to fully stop it, without limiting Freedom of Speech & Press, but companies are doing there best to limit it. Facebook is one of these companies and it is done so by introducing human fact checkers in its new usage policies, back in 2016. Users can also be the ones to stop the spread of this fake news. By doing our own part in not clicking on the link that looks like a scam and not sharing it. If everyone did this, it is possible to extremely limit or even put a stop to this false information. Until then, just keep on scrolling.

 

Work Cited:
“Los Angeles Times – We Are Currently Unavailable In Your Region.” Latimes.Com, 2018, http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-tn-facebook-fake-news-20161215-story.html.
Tomar, David. “11 Reasons We’re Too Dumb To Resist Clickbait.” Thebestschools.Org, 2017, https://thebestschools.org/magazine/why-clickbait-works/.
“Can We Stop Fake News?.” The American Prospect, 2018, http://prospect.org/article/can-we-stop-fake-news.
Image:
“Free Image On Pixabay – News, False, Concept, Information.” Pixabay.Com, 2018, https://pixabay.com/en/news-false-concept-information-2094394/.

Does Our Nation’s 1st Amendment Allow Whether False News Be Obliged In The U.S?

Our founding fathers, specifically Benjamin Franklin, once proposed this idea of “power of the press” post the ratification of the Bill of Rights. Franklin stated that the press had the highest judgment in public headlines, following that they also carried power in what he announced as “unofficial”. Another highly figure, Thomas Jefferson, believed that freedom be given to the press in exchange for their gratitude in being governed on a higher hierarchy. Though Jefferson stated that the 1st Amendment be abused and falsely cooperated, judgement will find its course and eventually do it’s bidding.

In today’s society, the press or media, have been more complex through the game of politics, trends, and etc. But looking deeper, there has been a more increasingly amount of websites posting fake news on their page to shape society’s beliefs. When Donald Trump had won the 2016 election in January, there was an immediate rush of news outlets saying that Trump’s team had hacked their way through victory against the higher popular vote of Hillary Clinton. Going up against fake news on social media platforms like Facebook, according to the New York Times, Facebook’s policy chooses what content they allowed published on their website. Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg said that the company is finding ways to detect and capture fake news on their platform, however, Mark Zuckerberg believes that allowing freedom of speech is also an important asset when it comes to the people’s voices on the website whether that’s fake news in the mix.

A last thought comes from Clare Fletcher, a journalist who writes about freedom of speech and fakes news combined. Clare simply puts that fake news violates our freedom of speech, in which if fake news was censored by the government, it would be a pure violation to the Constitution. My conclusions is that fake news is simply an expression that’s meant to change the perceptions of a populated group, for which freedom of speech does protect, however to what degree?

“The Pro-Free Speech Way To Fight Fake News – The Walkley Magazine – Medium.” Medium. N. p., 2018. Web. 1 Oct. 2018.
” Ebscohost Login .” Web.a.ebscohost.com. N. p., 2018. Web. 1 Oct. 2018.
“We Already Have A 
Solution To Fake News: It’S Called The First Amendment.” The Heritage Foundation. N. p., 2018. Web. 1 Oct. 2018.

How Far Can Satire Go

Many people use satire to express and exaggerate points and ideas, people may use it for humor. This can cause an unwanted focus of negative attention to the person getting targeted. This brings the question of is there a line between satire and libel. People argue that satire is a way to humor and criticize people, the news, and the government. Which is protected under the First Amendment, but can this go too far. One Example of this happening is Hustler Magazine, Inc. et al. v. Jerry FalwellIn this court case the company Hustler Magazine known for there pornography magazine started to put inappropriate ads of Jerry Falwell a well respected public preacher in there magazine. These Ads of him would include pictures of Jerry having drunk sexual encounters with mother and also other men. Obviously people knew this was not true but Jerry Falwell felt as if he and his career were getting targeted. Jerry Falwell tried suing  Hustler Magazine but didn’t get anything out of it.  One way that satire is acceptable is when it is being used in the right way. You may be thinking that there is no “right way” to use satire but I believe that when it is used to target someone and push humor to someone that is irrelevant just hurts someones image, spreading fake news in a way. Talk show comedians such as Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and Trevor Noah are excerpts in using satire to make there shows knowledgeable and entertaining. They do a good job of taking a topic that the public is familiar with, or explaining news that is currently happening so that everyone is on the same page for the joke. Then they will make fun of the topic by over exaggerating it and adding many sarcastic comments. What I like about these comedians is that they don’t make jokes at overly sensitive topics, and will let you know when they are being serious. This makes is so that there is no confusion they are making fun of something they shouldn’t have. This way of bringing news in an entertaining way has had a giant impact on how we perceive the news. Overall Using satire is a great way to lighten up topics and make jokes, but this humor needs to be obvious and appropriate. Because if you are not clear your words might be perceived and something else.

Works Cited:

N.a. “Freedom of Speech – Why Satire is Protected – HG.org.” Hg.org. n.d. Web. 20 Feb. 2018. <https://www.hg.org/article.asp?id=34438&gt;

N.a. “Parody & satire.” Newseuminstitute.org. n.d. Web. 20 Feb. 2018. <http://www.newseuminstitute.org/first-amendment-center/topics/freedom-of-speech-2/arts-first-amendment-overview/parody-satire/&gt;

Jennifer Keishin Armstrong. “How Jon Stewart changed the world.” Bbc.com. n.d. Web. 20 Feb. 2018. <http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20150806-how-jon-stewart-changed-the-world&gt;

Courts ruling of slander and satire

How do the United State courts rule between satire and slander?

 

Living in a country where media is very prevalent in our lives sometimes fake news can get to carried away, but how do courts differentiate defamatory news between satire?  According to Kelly and Warner Law they state,” The United States courts have made it abundantly clear: parody and satire are not defamatory”. It really depends on who is seeing these stories and how they take humor and sarcasm. Satire is the funny version of news and can you can tell that it is fake. The United States courts protect satire as part of the First Amendment because everyone has the right to express themselves as long as it doesn’t interfere with the reputation of others. Where as defamatory news can cause harm to a person’s image due to lies that are very believable and passed off as true.

One very important case of satire and defamation is when Falwell,  a pastor, sued Larry Flynt for an ad published in Hustler magazine. The ad implied Falwell had a intimate relationship with his mother. When the case reached the Supreme court the judges sided with Larry Flynt. They explained that the ad was satire and didn’t hurt Falwell’s reputation because it very noticeable that it was fake and pure humor. Although in a defamation case where Rebel Wilson sued  Bauer Media for falsely accusing her of lying about her age and childhood and portraying her as a “serial liar”. This false accusation cost her a lot of “damage” because she wasn’t able to get any jobs.

 

“Satire V. Defamation: What’s The Difference Between Satire & Defamation?.” Kelly / Warner Law | Defamation Law, Internet Law, Business Law. N. p., 2014. Web. 20 Feb. 2018.

“‘It’S Important To Stand Up To Bullies’: Rebel Wilson Wins Record Amount In Defamation Case.” Washington Post. N. p., 2018. Web. 20 Feb. 2018.

” Defamation And Satire | Media Law Journal.” Medialawjournal.co.nz. N. p., 2018. Web. 20 Feb. 2018.