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Opinions of Monday, 22 June 2020

Columnist: Prosper Setsoafia

Fake neo-news: The old neo-normal


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“When a thousand people believe some made-up story for one month, that’s fake news. When a billion people believe it for a thousand years, that’s a religion, and we are admonished not to call it “fake news” in order not to hurt the feelings of the faithful (or incur their wrath).” -Yuval Noah Harari.

It will be an institutional memory bankruptcy to claim the prevalence of fake news is a new pandemic. And because we admire coining novel terms, infodemic came to be associated with this phenomenon. But why treat this Adamic phenomenon as a Zuckerbergian fast food? May be like you are outraged about racism or xenophobia because fractions of them are filmed or just a click away.

What makes particular information fake? Let cruise on

Tagging news item or concept as fake goes beyond the dictionary claim of conscious misinformation of the public. Even the claim of misinforming might be due to your vigilance in verifying that particular item or concept. What about the ones that you were not able to ascertain their veracity?

Like a Prosperity message trained preacher prophesying to you about your beloved mother being a witch. You might believe that claim because you cannot verify that the message was coming from Elohim or it was the late-night heavy fufuo induced dreams of the preacher. Humbly because you are not able to get to the taproot of a particular ’information’ might not qualify it as fake. Definitely you cannot be a custodian of all knowledge- if in doubt about this claim, describe the operation of a Zip. Trust you accept your ignorance.

What is appalling mostly is the Trumpian attitude to the news that you cannot verify. But come to think of it, analysing the claim of fake from the Trumpian perspective, you might realise that it goes beyond the claim of misinformation.

It is more of an ideological difference, thus what you agree with is the fact but what you do not agree with is the hoax. But does that mean, issues or concepts in which there is a general consensus are true? Definitely, it might not be the case, because it took Galileo’s declared ignorance and his pursuit for the scientific truth to shatter the Medieval fantasy of the earth been the centre of the universe. He was excommunicated, his crime, presenting an observation contrary to the established truth. Was the church held views about the universe fake?

How then was fake news tagged as a weapon of deceit, confusion or what have you? Your sacred truth might be someone’s sworn fake. To a staunch Christian, all other religions are fake ( that wasn’t a typo). Christians because they believe in the bible, the other sacred books are a bunch of mere fables. Equally a ‘traditionalist’ might regard the bible as fables encyclopaedia because it doesn’t represent his/her understanding of issues. The result of this child play, my religious ideology is the best or authentic are not accessed with a password encoded in a differential equation.

Take the party politics of ‘Dubone’ for instance, discerning ideas contrary to the government of the day’s own are fictional and that of the ruling governments are the fact and nothing but the fact. This is mostly the case because they tend to prefer power to truth. Thus you cannot win elections by speaking truth to power always, you have to spread some fictions because they connect to the heart than the brain.

Fake news is not always fake, they are some that you humbly hold in high esteem ignorantly as the truth. In case you realise that what you are taught about Ghana are fake which possibly might be the case, will you burn/crucify Ghana? That is impossible because Ghana is not a physical entity but rather a fictional entity resting in the collective ‘UGMC’ of our minds. Kindly dissect the concept of fake news beyond its seemly dirty clothes and don’t dismiss it as the prodigal son of the social media. What you can’t verify is not always fake.

By: Prosper Setsoafia

Email: setsoafiaprosperh@gmail.com

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