1. Many people invalidate "The Great Gatsby" because the characters are unlikable, rather than examining the book for themes and message.
2. The “Spot the Vegan” game on Tumblr dismisses vegans and their arguments for animal rights, instead focusing on their anger and outbursts.
3. The “Not All Men” argument dismisses feminist frustrations over sexual inequities, because it is impossible to prove that all men treat women with sexual inferiority.
The fake news article I examined has a clean, polished look imitating that of a typical online news article. There is a bold, graphic header, followed by neat, un-indented paragraphs in sans font. This clean, modern simplicity appeals to the aesthetic of the internet and the culture of online, millennial readers. The contrast between the black and white portrays a professionalism and seriousness.
If the article was presented in brighter colors or bolder font, it would lose the immediate appearance of credibility, looking less like an online news article. With online news articles, there is an expectation of clean lines and clear organization. This article plays to those expectations.
The large, immediate picture of Pluto immediately captures the reader's attention. The title of the website, "Futurism", is also centered. As the reader continues scrolling, a smaller graphic (cartoon image) continues engaging the reader with the topic. The bright image juxtaposes the black and white contrast between the words and the rest of the page. These images on an otherwise plain article hold the reader's interest. This ploy is used in fake and real news articles alike.
In an April Fools Day prank, futurism.com published an article stating that Pluto had been officially reinstated as a planet. The article has since been edited to tell readers that the information is false, but at the time, many people believed the article and began re-debating the Pluto controversy on the internet.
The article uses intertextuality, pretending to reference the International Astronomical Union (IAU), using them as a supposed authoritative source. This earned the trust and suspicions of many readers. The article author also intertextually quotes supposed Dr. Amy Joggy, expanding upon her title, “professor at the Institute of Planetary Studies and head of the IAU’s Planetary Classification and Experimental Nomenclature Task Force”. This technique is used to establish source credibility and is also seen in Heffernan’s article on the internet’s capability for harm. (For instance, Heffernan elaborates on Geoffrey Berman’s title, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.) The loaded diction, from “infamous vote” to the public “explode[ing] with outrage” is also reminiscent of a real news article, designed to capture reader attention. The article also requires that the reader have some knowledge of Pluto’s history as a planet and a beloved Disney character, drawing intertextual references to both.
Though the rise of sensationalism and click-bait within the internet makes it easier to pass false news as fact, by being a close reader, questioning sources, and doing additional investigation, readers can gain the capability to discern fact from fiction.
The article "This week proved it..." by Virginia Heffernan uses jarring diction and intertextualization to invoke a sense of alarm and frustration within the reader, proving that the internet is an unstable instrument capable of destroying user privacy and tampering with world affairs.
The article uses intertextuality to reference other reporters who place an emphasis on Facebook's desire to keep the information breach quiet. These references create a feeling of secrecy, as if Facebook is afraid of the impact of the word "breach". This establishes an immediate mistrust of Facebook, a corporate giant, and forces the reader to consider the company as a corrupt, billion dollar institution trying to hide a scandal. The author also references major online organizations, from Cambridge to Ashley Madison. The reader must have a relatively decent understanding of online activity and the purpose of these sights to understand the full force of the accusation against the ability of the internet to truly protect privacy. Major hot-topic news events are also alluded to, suggesting the ability of the internet to corrupt within domestic affairs (such as the election) to foreign terrorism.
The language is colloquial yet jabbing--the author employs second person point of view to mimic a sort of conversation with the reader. By allying herself with the readers, the author's jabs at Facebook, Cambridge, and the general internet gain more gravity. She has invoked an us vs. them mentality, alluding to the "fog of war" and "cacophony and discord" of the internet. These words carry ominous, negative connotations, invoking feelings of uncertainty, mistrust, and even betrayal.
The author also uses social drama to grab the reader, discusses dramatic topics of public interest. She discusses Facebook's implications within the Russian Hacking dispute (which many Americans remain heated over), and also the #DeleteFacebook movement. To remain genre appropriate, Heffernan incorporates statistical evidence of Facebooks declining stock prices and the amount of personal data stolen, though she is careful to emphasize that the victims are "unconsenting Americans".
Many of the sources she references act as authoritative sources, adding a sense of credibility to her argument and her anger. For instance, establishing Geoffrey Berman's title as the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York immediately gives him and his statement a weighted credibility.
The text belief is stated most clearly in the line, "If your head is spinning, that's the point". This article is meant to demonstrate that personal privacy--American personal privacy--has been infringed upon in alarming ways. The dark and hyperbolic conclusion which alludes to the very real problem of false media and the idea of a potential war clearly exercises the belief that the growing mistrust of the internet due to consistent failures are creating a volatile and unstable environment. This article demonstrates this instability and fosters mistrust in the internet.