The War On Information is not a new issue; it hasn’t simply arisen in the digital age. Historically information has been edited, re-shaped and re-used for generations to suit the agenda of those in power, those who ultimately control the information. Now however it is being utilized as a weapon, with many people now unsure which sources to depend on for ‘truth’ as traditional media sources become skeletons of what they once were due to the rise of digital media and budget cuts.
Consumers are therefore shifting their trust from such traditional news sources to individuals. Favoring an individual’s version of the ‘truth’ then adapting it as his or her own, causing immeasurable amounts of damage to society. This is especially true when focusing on how this shift allowed Trump to gain his power, and the spread of the Anti-Vaccine movement.
Trumps reign is fueled by misinformation. Yet he attacks the media for “fake news” and criticizes journalism, which is unfavorable to him. This is the true danger facing not just America, but any democracy; those in power either dismantling or discrediting news sources, which do not favor them. Trump has even set up his own “news” show, hosted by his daughter Laura Trump which unsurprisingly only features stories that are favorable towards Trump and his associates.
This allows those who support Trump to effectively “block out” media sources that attempt to discredit him, labeling them as ‘fake’ or ‘liberal funded.’ This is particularly dangerous because it doesn’t allow for debate or questioning. It also makes him untouchable to that particular group, a “crusader against the liberal media trying to brain wash society”. Therefore anything contradicting or proving him wrong becomes a conspiracy to de-throne Trump, rather than healthy democratic debate.
Since Donald Trump was elected the President Of The United States the concept of trust and respect for elected Presidents is diminishing. His speeches can range from utter nonsense to outright lies, even about trivial matters such as the weather at his inauguration or the amount of people present on the day (which was minimal). We now have an American President who believes he is exempt from the truth, even more astonishingly this doesn’t seem to have adversely affected his power; if anything he harnesses these “half truths” or “alternative truths” to distract the public from his true agenda.
His use of misinformation is almost a Machiavellian plan in many regards. An “employment of cunning and duplicity in statecraft or in general conduct”, almost beautifully sums up his tyranny as he now begins to declare war on North Korea. This “impending war” is being utilized as a new distraction from his failing Government and diminishing supporter numbers. Trump would chose war over ego, and therefore must continue to fuel as much misinformation as possible in order to maintain control.
The Anti vaccine movement has had a similar cause and effect. Through harnessing this distrust of Government and media they have been able to fuel the debate and gain followers as others too begin to question long held truths such as the benefits of vaccinations.
Vaccinations have been noted as “the biggest medical triumph man has created.”. However in the last decade, the topic of vaccinations has shifted, with heated debate on both sides as to the potential side effects some of these miracle vaccines cause. The debate has been wrought with misinformation; mainly sourced by one academic paper published in 1998 by Andrew Wakefield claiming that his study proved that vaccinations resulted in children developing autism or autistic characteristics. Even though the document was disproved and condemned by many scholars and medical professionals, the growing support for the findings continues with devastating results.
For the first 10 decades after his findings were published his following was niche, and caused little harm to society. However now in the rise of the digital age, his findings found their way back into mainstream media, with Facebook being the main source of the spread. Previously wiped-out diseases such as measles, mumps and polio began to creep back, causing devastating harm especially to small children.
Thankfully society has begun to stand up against anti- vaccination supporters with day care centers across America (and in some regions of Australia) taking on the “no jab no play” mantra. Refusing service to parents who can’t (or won’t) produce documentation of their child’s medical records. Many daytime television shows such as Sunrise have done segments condemning the act on non-vaccination, with one panel member stopping short of calling it child abuse.
Similar “rise against” movements have gained support against Trump as well. Protests are behind held almost daily in America against various rulings, tweets, comments and overall deplorable behavior. For example the rallies held after the boarder was closed to selected Muslim countries, people from all backgrounds and ages protested at the airports and government buildings letting their opinion be heard.
Australia is now too standing against Trump and his agenda, with our Prime Minister recently stating to NOVA FM radio that a war with North Korea would be “unimaginatively destructive” and detrimental to Australian troops “likely resulting in thousands of Aussie lives lost.”
People now have access to vast amounts of information, ranging from scholarly to personal opinion mascaraing as truth. We are now more likely to believe a friend than a well-documented source, as the motivations are clearer. This is ironic because Andrew Wakefield’s findings were motivated by the financial gains he sought, and was proven in court to have accepted bribes and ‘incentives’ to prove his study as correct, and Trumps motivations aren’t to “Make America Great Again” but to instead enshrine himself in history books and preserve his own self-image.
Overall deep seeded distrust in the Government and the steady decline of trusted print journalism has lead many to rely on online news sources, which can often be slanted towards a particular view, poorly researched and have their sources unnamed. It is critical that people receive their information from well-researched, established sources that can be held accountable for mistakes. This is the only way to rebuild the trust between information and indivual, and in turn prevent “the war on information” from worsening as the digital age continues.
Nelson, L 2017, ‘Trump again attacks New York Times as ‘Fake News’ Politico News, weblog post, June 28, viewed 1st October 2017, weblink
Grimes, J 2017, Trumps ‘Real News Show’ , Washington Post, August 4th, viewed 1st October 2017, weblink
Collinson, S 2017, ‘Delegitimising his presidency, one tweet at a time’ CNN Politics, June 30th, viewed 12 October 2017, weblink
Sanger, E 2017, ‘U.S Fuel Cutoff For North Korea’ The New York Times, September 4th 2017, viewed 12 October 2017, weblink
Correa, A 2017 ‘No Jab No Play’ NCRIS News, August 12th 2017, viewed October 13th 2017, weblink
Blake, A 2017 ‘Anti-Vaccination fears’ Channel 7 Sunrise, April 11th 2013, viewed October 13th 2017, weblink