However, I would say that these assertions about “fake news” ie that is it harmful, that it gets in the way of truth etc is the exact opposite of reality.
Let me give a personal example
I was looking into the safety of CT scans. I understood that there were some concerns about the amount of radiation the patient would be exposed to. I wanted to assess if the supposed risks, outweighed the rewards.
So I did what any intelligent person would do, I Googled “ct scan preventative” to see what experts were saying.
What I found
What I found on Google was overwhelmingly negative against people getting CT scans if they had no medical issues. The “consensus” being that healthy people who get a CT scan are exposing themselves to relatively high levels of radiation for no good reason and there was a chance that the CT scans would find something that was actually nothing.
Basically CT scans could send people down rabbit holes and get them worrying about non issues.
In short, if you don’t have good reason, don’t get a CT scan, the risk outweigh the rewards.
The only parties I could find that were not agreeing with this “consensus” were companies offering “check ups”. They sell CT scans as preventative care. Obviously these companies have a vested interest in getting people to take CT scans so naturally I was interested in what they had to say but I also wanted neutral opinions.
Problem was, I could not find any neutrals parties that were saying getting CT scans for no apparent reason was a good move for preventative health care.
And this is the problem
There is a plethora of sources from apparently neutral experts saying don’t get CT scans without a reason.
And no neutral parties saying get a CT scan, “it might find something you don’t know about”
And this made me suspicious.
Why are there no neutral parties in favour of CT scans? Surely there must be some. Even if it is people who work for these CT scan companies who are writing in their spare time.
And this made me realise how important “fake news” is.
I needed to hear unbiased articles and/or opinions from people pushing for CT scans. I needed to hear an alternative opinion.
I want to know their reasoning and more specifically, if the reasoning of pro CT scan people seems reasonable & sound.
But I had nothing
There was nothing for me to put on the other end of the scales. The argument had no balance.
Is it possible that literally no one thinks getting a CT scan is good prevantive care?
Or is Google suppressing the people who are pro CT scans?
Given that we know sites like Facebook, Twitter and Google delete/filter content which they deem “fake news” there was no way for me to know.
I simply could not know if there were no results because there was no one in favour of CT scans or if the reason there were no sources in favor of CT scans was because these people/posts/pages had been removed.
Fake News is essential
And this is why fake news is absolutely essential. Knowing that censorship is happening I had no way of knowing if the anti CT scan message was real and balanced.
I am a layman, I need to hear all sides of the argument. When I hear the reasoning behind the opposing arguments I can make a personal judgement as to which argument makes the most sense.
If I get only one side of the argument because sites like Google, Twitter and YouTube are filtering the argument I am left in limbo.
One would imagine the arguments for the “real news” are much more sound than the reasoning for “fake news”. But if I can’t compare the reasoning behind the two sides there is no way to know which side has the most convincing argument.
Again, “fake news” is essential
Fake news is essential in giving credibility to the “real news”
When we have the media (and social media) websites actively filtering the news, the news becomes meaningless because it exists in a vacuum. With no opposing force there is now way to know how strong the “real news” argument is.
-How strong is the argument for the “real news”?
-Can it withstand criticisms or will it fall apart?
Without knowing the different sides of the argument there is no way for the layman to answer these questions.
Back to the CT scan
So after doing my research I had to return to the default position (CT scans are bad) because that was the only position I could see.
Basing my opinion solely on the fact that I was not aware of any opposing arguments, rather than the efficacy of the argument itself was deeply unsatisfactory.
Why is suppressing dissent desirable?
Why would it be a “good” thing for people not to be able to make an informed and reasoned decision?
The only explanation I see is that suppression of opposing voices is required for facile arguments. If your argument or story is weak you need to protect it from the resistive forces of dissent for fear your narrative will collapse.
Not only does suppressing dissenting views weaken an argument because the argument has no balance
Suppressing dissenting views can also breed suspicion that the point being made is faulty is some way because it must be protected from criticism.
Whatever the case maybe we arrive back at the same point
To make a solid and convincing narrative there must be push back so we can see how strong the reasoning behind the narrative actually is.
The only circumstance where suppression is beneficial is when we are trying to propagate an idea we know is faulty or just plain weak.