The law of unforeseen consequences is one of those universal concepts operating independently of any human intervention. Like Energy (e)=mass (m) times the speed of light (c) squared or the Laws of Thermodynamics (Simplified definition here) or Kirchoffs laws. Or Newtons laws of motion.
Now you don’t have to be a genius to understand the above concepts. They’re all soundly researched and tested. Solid High School level science. However, the one that is almost always ignored is the Universal law of unforeseen consequences. A law recognised (although under different names) by such intellects as Adam Smith’s Invisible hand, John Locke when he railed against the perverse unanticipated effects of legislation and Frederick Bastiat’s What is seen and unseen. And of course the modern definition from the work of Robert K Merton.
So it is with the current furore about ‘Fake news’. The key questions are: who defines what is ‘Fake’? The Germans? The UN? Google? What criteria apply? If factually true is answer, then most mainstream offerings will have a big FAIL stamped on them. Especially the Op-eds that masquerade as ‘news’. Particularly ‘news’ items proven to distort and misrepresent events to fit in with a particular world view. Like a dozen protesters made to look like hundreds, crises over-dramatised, innocent people subject to witch hunts, and half truths presented as fact.
The amused thought occurs that perhaps the tactics of censorship could be turned against those who militate for it. Specifically making official complaint about various ‘news’ organisations and using their state-sponsored laws against them. An FOIA here, a little research, a quick Fisk and watch the censorious monster crumble to dust in the light of dawn. Stuff a lot of bloggers have been doing for years. I think a few of Germany’s proposed fifty million Euro fines would soon empty, say CNN’s coffers, right into the hands of lawyers and legislators. Indeed, even official sources might find themselves wrapped up in a Gordian knot of their own legislation. All it will require is a little due diligence on the part of the bloggers. Which means a lot of arse covering, but serious bloggers tend to fact check a lot more than their mainstream counterparts. Indeed, it’s all part of many bloggers raison d’etre. As for the ones who just make shit up like those who claim the Moon landings were a hoax, well, open your wallets boys and say “Help yourself”.
So, let the battle of ‘Fake News’ move into a hotter phase. What larks, eh?