Going Viral

Trump’s victory is complete: While he spent his entire campaign tracking down those responsible for America’s decline, his opponents in turn sought a scapegoat to explain their failure. At the top of the list is the American press, which undoubtedly must recognize the role it played. It refused to think the unthinkable, blinded by an all-consuming belief in data analysis. The press has moreover begun a rather beneficial process of self-examination and must also, as in France, consider its difficulty in explaining the world to its readers, who are no longer invested in the press, or who either do not believe what they read or have ceased to believe it. Facebook is also in the dock, criticized, with good reason, for favoring the dissemination of false information, laying the groundwork for a billionaire who mocks the truth. But, alas! An area for self-criticism that the social network refuses to recognize as its responsibility is the distortion of the truth, with a greater concern for its business model than for distinguishing truth from lies (something which any savvy, ethical journalist can manage in three minutes, but there you go). Let us nonetheless wait for the serious studies to measure the true weight of the social network’s role in transforming these viral false news stories into Trump bulletins. We can also blame those who share this information, whether by naivety, greed or evil nature. It is also interesting to note that the Trump vote was less established among young people and city dwellers. Is it purely by chance that these thousands of people are the most susceptible to new forms of journalism that are less centered on institutional politics and created in the ecosystem of social networks, like the BuzzFeed article that has been so criticized in France? Undoubtedly not: The desperation, the fear of others and of a hopeless future, politicians’ inability to propose credible alternatives, and the traditional press’ difficulties in speaking to disoriented readers are the real reasons for the liar-in-chief’s victory. Those who have looked beyond those who are really responsible for Trump’s victory know the truth: It is easier to find scapegoats than to find antidotes for the real poisons.

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