This type of thing, and its obvious potential for misuse, is frightening:
Of course, the whole line about how we must "rely on trusted news sources" is pretty pathetic, especially coming from the "question authority" Left. Especially after the "Saddam's throwing babies out of incubators" lie and the "weapons of mass destruction" lie and the "moderate rebels in Libya" lie and the current "moderate rebels in Syria" lie. But the possibility of fake news getting much, much faker is frightening indeed.
As far as things go now, I would be very cautious with all news sources, albeit for separate reasons:
- Establishment News Sources: These will generally (well, sometimes) have better fact checking than alternative sources. But they are also deeply entwined with the establishment and tend to dismiss any alternative explanations as "conspiracy theories." For instance, merely asking the question "qui bono?" and wanting the OPCW to inspect the site of the alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria before attacking a sovereign nation was lambasted as a "conspiracy theory." Give me a break. I should also note, those "fact checkers" like Politifact, need to be looked at with a skeptical eye as well.
- Alternative News Sources: While these aren't tied down by their links to the establishment or large corporate interests, they have two major problems: 1) They often have an extreme ideological bias (which is true for the establishment as well, of course) and 2) They often don't have very good fact checking or journalistic training.
And both have an incentive to exaggerate and come out with "breaking news," which is often little more than speculation or clickbait.
Double and triple check stories when you're trying to find out what's true. Also, look for the criticism to see if there are glaring holes in an argument. Oftentimes, the best way I can come to a conclusion as to the veracity of a claim is to evaluate the quality of the criticism leveled against it. Unfortunately, fake news is rampant. But it's rampant both amongst the establishment and alternative news sources.
Read widely and be careful what you believe.
"Every day is a new life to the wise man."
The Righteous Mind
Star Slate Codex
Consulting by RPM