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Noam Chomsky: Surfing the web for ‘random factoids’ is not education — it’s a ‘cult generator’

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Fake news has been around long before Facebook, but it was the tech company’s goal to appear like a newspaper that eventually misled its users far more than ever before.

“Technology is basically neutral,” author Noam Chomsky explained. “It’s kinda like a hammer…the hammer doesn’t care whether you use it to build a house or a torturer uses it to crush somebody’s skull… same with modern technology [like] the internet. The internet is extremely valuable if you know what you’re looking for.”

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Unfortunately, that’s almost the antithesis of Facebook. And while Paper, the ad-free Facebook news feed app ultimately failed, the social media network had by then successfully developed tools like Smart Publishing. The latter tool for publishers aimed to boost stories on Facebook that were popular with the user’s own network, amplifying the performance of fake news in a scandal-obsessed hyperpartisan era. But until five weeks after the election, there was little distinction on the platform between “news” published by conspiracy theorists and actual trusted news sources.

“If you don’t have [an idea what you’re looking for], exploring the internet is just picking out random factoids that don’t mean anything,” Chomsky stated. Without a specific strategy, he believes the internet is far more likely to be harmful than helpful.

“Random exploration through the internet turns out to be a cult generator,” Chomsky concluded. “Pick up the factoid here, a factoid there, somebody else reinforces it, and all of a sudden you have some crazed picture which has some factual basis, but nothing to do with the world. You have to know how to evaluate, interpret and understand.”

Despite having initially denied that hoaxes on Facebook influenced the presidential election, Facebook did begin flagging articles users identified as fake news in mid-December.

Facebook isn’t the only tech company faced with the onslaught of fake news; Google’s top stories are often totally illegitimate.

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Chomsky doesn’t like Facebook for many reasons; however, he does use the internet for research.

Then there’s Donald Trump, who in May, after sharing a fake video to claim a protester’s non-existent ties to ISIS, said, “All I know is what’s on the internet.”

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Fox News’ Geraldo Rivera attacks former White House press secretary on Twitter as ‘old douche’

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In a bizarre moment, Sunday evening politics turned into a war of wards in President Donald Trump's Twitter comments.

Fox News commentator Geraldo Rivera responded to former press secretary Joe Lockhart, who had replied to one of the tweets Trump retweeted from Rivera.

"Gloom settling on Democrats as they realize they’ve taken their best kill shot & missed. Dems in despair. Republicans United. @realDonaldTrump survives & #Impeachment all over but the shouting," said Rivera, hopefully not literally saying that Democrats wanted to shoot or kill the president.

Lockhart responded to the comment by mocking the Fox News host, saying that he was only making the comment to help get his contract renewed.

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‘Now we see why’ Trump blocked Bolton from testifying — and Republicans are barring witnesses: Adam Schiff

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House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) is one of the handful of members of Congress who have served as managers for President Donald Trump's impeachment trial. He has not only navigated the past week of the trial, but he conducted the first major hearing.

After the New York Times revealed key facts from former national security adviser John Bolton's upcoming book, Schiff said that it was clear the information Bolton has is why Trump blocked him from testifying.

“I think you have to for the sake of the office,” Trump told Fox News’s Laura Ingraham when she asked if he would block Bolton.

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John Bolton went to Bill Barr with concerns about Giuliani’s ‘shadow foreign policy’ in Ukraine: report

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Attorney General Bill Barr was cited recently by Rudy Giuliani's associate Lev Parnas as being part of the "team" of people workign to create a conspiracy to help get President Donald Trump reelected.

“Attorney General Barr was basically on the team,” said Parnas in an interview with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow. “Mr. Barr had to know about everything.”

Parnas' lawyer, Joseph Bondy, has demanded that Barr recuse himself from overseeing the Parnas trial and investigation.

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