BuzzFeed Writer: Why Can’t Google, Facebook Get a Grip on Fake News?

What’s going on?

Humans haven’t been replaced by machines yet in at least one area: spotting news hoaxes. BuzzFeed senior writer Charlie Warzel joined Glenn and Stu today to talk about the tech world’s fake news problem and urge lawmakers to sit up and take notice of developing technology before it gets completely out of hand.

Give me the quick version:

After the tragic shooting in Florida last week, journalists and researchers noticed dozens of hoaxes that were going viral; impersonations of journalists; and posts and videos that claimed the victims were actors. All of those things violate the rules for platforms like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

Parkland marked the third time in four months that these tech companies had slipped up by allowing total misinformation about tragedies to be shared freely on their platforms, BuzzFeed reported. Why can’t they seem to do better?

Politicians need to wake up.

As technology advances, it’s getting more and more difficult to know what’s real and what’s fake. Warzel urged lawmakers to put in “safeguards” now before obscure Reddit threads become mainstream misinformation. How will we trust our eyes and ears when video and audio can be easily faked?

This article provided courtesy of TheBlaze.

GLENN: Every once in a while, we need to take a step back. Everybody right now is screaming, fake news, fake news. Both sides are doing it, and in some ways, both sides are right.

We're getting to a place that soon, you're not going to be able to believe your eyes and ears. And people don't really realize this. There's a guy named Aviv Ovadya. He predicted the fake news explosion. And now he's saying, oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. But that's just the beginning. That's nothing compared to what's on the recent or -- or near horizon.

STU: Yeah. Infopocalypse, potentially. And there's a great story about this in Buzzfeed from Charlie Warzel. It's a story about what's coming next.

Charlie Warzel is a reporter for Buzzfeed. Also writes something -- one of my favorite things to read, which because it's about Infowars and sort of that conspiracy media. And it's -- his last name is Warzel. It's called InfoWarzel, which is the greatest name of all time. It's a newsletter, and it's really worth your attention as well. He joins us now from Montana, Charlie, is that where you are?

CHARLIE: That's right. Missoula, Montana. Thanks for having me.

GLENN: You bet.

So, Charlie, I can't seem to get people to really get their arms around the idea that soon, we're not going to even know what reality is, and we don't -- we won't care.

JORDAN: Well, it's -- it's complicated, to some extent. But the best way that I can describe it is that these sort of hall of mirrors that we're sort of experiencing online right now. As you guys were saying earlier, everyone is sort of calling fake news with -- with sort of bad actors, acting in bad faith, putting out, you know, propaganda and content that's designed to manipulate. That isn't true.

All those things that we see, you know, in our Facebook feeds, in Twitter right now.

It's all going to potentially get far worse because the technology is going to allow it to come from people that perhaps we know.

So the -- you know, the -- the fake news that you're seeing, the misinformation, the propaganda, it could start coming from, you know, a loved one. You know, you could start getting emails from them, telling you things that didn't happen that were generated algorithmically. So it's not really that something new is going to happen. It's that everything happening right now, all this unrest, discord, confusion, and difficulty, sort of parsing reality, is going to become so much more sophisticated because of technology, that hasn't even been invented yet.

GLENN: What do you mean that you're going to get -- that you'll get something from your loved ones?

CHARLIE: Sure. So Aviv, the researcher who I spoke with, alongside many others who are doing, you know, really great work, sort of understanding how these platforms work. And the technology that's on the horizon. Aviv has this -- this term. And it's called laser fishing. So regular fishing, or spearphishing is when you maybe get a link from something -- an email address that is a couple characters off from somebody you know. And it's saying, hey, click this link. And then that link asks you for, you know, your password information. It's sort of a classic hacker trick. It's pretty low-tech.

This would sort of be something that would happen. Laser fishing is using AI and sort of this artificial intelligence and machine learning to understand things about you, understand the people that you talk to.

The conversation you have across social media with other people. Mine all that information. And then use it to manipulate you. So instead of getting an email from someone who -- who sounds like they could be somebody you own, the email is going to come from ostensibly someone you know, and it's going to have information that's pertinent to you. Information that you were perhaps expecting to hear from. So you're so much more likely to believe this information. And then offer things up.

You know, there's a lot of people -- Nigerian princes on the internet who are asking for money. But what if that person is your brother. And your brother says that he had a car accident. And he's stuck and needs to repair his car. Because you were having a conversation about, you know, cars and money or something like that along the line.

So this is -- being able to manipulate people, at the click of a mouse or a button, in this -- in this artificial intelligence way. And I think that -- I think that we're -- we're falling for the low-tech, low-fi stuff right now. So it's going to be hard to imagine, you know, how we can get up to speed on the other stuff.

STU: And the future of this, Charlie, goes even further than just say an email. It could be even audio or video coming from the people that you know convincing you to do something that winds up completely burning you.

CHARLIE: Absolutely. And I think you can see this not just in people asking for money, or you know, asking you for information. But this can be -- this can be used to manipulate government and diplomacy.

GLENN: Uh-huh.

CHARLIE: It's not hard to envision -- and many people sort of have already been talking about this. But it's not hard to envision any lawmaker has hundreds of hours of footage on themselves, either audio or video on the internet. The machine learning programs can take that. Can absorb it. And then what they can -- what they can do with that is -- is produce very hard -- hard to verify and real-looking video of people saying anything.

So, you know, you could have a video of Donald Trump potentially down the line, really antagonizing in -- in an aggressive way, North Korea.

And the stakes of that get higher and higher as the reaction times are -- are shorter. And people have to respond.

So you could really escalate, you know, political and -- and, you know, diplomatic tensions using this kind of technology.

GLENN: So I was talking about this, at the beginning of the year. And I laid out just some crazy predictions. And one of them was, if be the not this election of 2018, by 2020, this will be used in an effective way. And we may not know about it until after the election. But we are that close to this kind of stuff being used. Would you agree with that?

CHARLIE: Well, I think with the artificial intelligence stuff, with the video and audio manipulation, we may be a little further down the line from that. Because the real worry is not just some incredibly sophisticated programmer or one-off type person is going to be able to use this, who has, you know, access -- proprietary technology.

The real thing is when it becomes democratized, when you can manipulate -- when anyone with two or three hours of research on the internet, can do this.

And that, I think we're a little bit further off, but not too far. There are some -- some forums.

There's a forum on the site Reddit, which is called deepfakes. And it is where people are manipulating video right now.

Some of it is awful. Some of it is pornographic and very disturbing. But others are just -- you can go and look for yourself, are funny. People putting Nicholas Cage's face on Arnold Schwarzenegger.

GLENN: I don't know why Nicholas Cage is this guy. But his face is almost on everybody.

(laughter)

CHARLIE: He's an internet sensation.

GLENN: Yeah, he is.

CHARLIE: But, you know, it speaks to -- when people are kind of playing around with this, having fun with it, doing it in their spare time because it's entertaining, that is sort of a harbinger of something that is sort of scary, which you could in two or three hours, figure out how to do this yourself.

I think we're a little further than -- I think 2020, who knows. But it's definitely coming.

GLENN: I hope you're right.

Tell me a little bit about what Aviv talks about and describes as reality apathy.

CHARLIE: Sure.

It's basically the combination of all of this that we're talking about. Which is these sophisticated technological tools to sort of distort what's real and what's not. To the point where you become overwhelmed by the idea of all -- say you're being laser fished by, you know, 20 people. And when you go online and try to click a news link, you're not sure where the source is coming from, whether it's something you can trust, whether it's something you're not.

You're just besieged by what you believe is misinformation, but you can't even tell. So you start to disengage.

You know, if your inbox is something where you don't know what you're getting, what's real or what's not, you're going to maybe give up. And that is sort of -- that works also with -- with diplomacy. If people start, you know, spoofing calls to Congress, to lobby their lawmakers about some political issue, if that happens in a -- in a spoofing way so much that people can't get through on the lines, they're going to stop participating in -- in democracy, in that particular way. They might, you know, stop going online and sharing their own opinions or feel unsafe. They might just say, you know what, the news, it's just not worth it for me. That's scary.

GLENN: But going the other way as well, if you see a bunch of stuff that is fake and you don't know what to believe, somebody in power could actually be doing some really bad stuff. And nobody would know. Nobody would pay attention. They would say, well, that's just fake. Because that's what the politician would say.

CHARLIE: Yeah, an informed citizenry is a cornerstone of democracy.

GLENN: So how do we inform ourselves, going forward? Who is standing against this? How do we protect -- I mean, you can't put the genie back in the bottle. What do we do?

CHARLIE: Well, I think -- this is why I wanted to highlight Aviv's work. And, you know, I -- he's becoming labeled as sort of the person who called the misinformation fake news crisis before it became a thing. He's one of many. There are -- there are, you know, dozens of researchers like this, who are lobbying tech companies, thinking about this, on sort of the vanguard of this movement.

And I think journalists, news organizations, highlighting these people's work, giving them a platform to talk about this, is the first step. The second step is really, you know, putting pressure on these technology companies. And not just Facebook or Google or Twitter. But, you know, the hardware makers. People like Adobe, who -- people like potentially Apple. Companies that are starting -- that are going to be making this audio visual technology. And making them sort of understand that innovation is okay.

But we have to learn our lessons from, you know, this whole fake news situation that we're dealing with right now. And build this technology responsibly, with all of these sort of externalities baked in, and understand what we can -- that these things can be abused. So let's put in the safeguards now, instead of later.

STU: I think you could see tech companies at times, be a little bit absorbed by self-interest. But they're not nefarious actors, right?

My -- my issue with this, when I try to find optimism in the future here, Charlie, is eventually state actors. Hacker groups. Someone with actual nefarious intent, that you can't go and lobby and you don't have people with ethics trying to deal with are going to get control of this stuff and do things that are going to be really harmful and maybe irreversible.

CHARLIE: I think that is potentially true. I mean, all of this -- it's difficult. Because we're in speculation territory. It's difficult as a journalist, writing about this about going too far. You know, scaring people too much. But, I mean, I think what this -- what the last 18 months of sort of information crisis world that we're in, should be teaching us right now. Is that this is everyone's problem. Law makers, you know, need to get smart on this stuff quick. They need to, you know, be putting pressure on --

GLENN: Not going to happen.

CHARLIE: And I think they need to spend time, you know, really understanding this technology --

GLENN: Yes.

CHARLIE: -- themselves. And getting the government ready. There's not a lot of task forces here, to combat computational propaganda or misinformation.

GLENN: Charlie, look how we're dealing with Russia. Everybody is talking about, oh, well, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton. Russia. Look at what Russia is doing. We can get to the rest of that and, you know, if somebody did something, they should go to jail. But we're missing the point, that Russia has come in and -- and announced, in advance, what they were going to do. And they did it.

CHARLIE: I think that what -- state-sponsored actors, all of this -- it's clearly manipulatable by them. And I think that we -- I think that that's certainly one -- one piece of the puzzle. I think that -- I think that this technology, we've spent so long thinking that this technology is a -- a universal positive. That there's no negative externalities to connecting the world.

And I think that that is, you know -- that's a naive look at this. And I think that we need to sort of change the way that we message about this technology, that it's just as much a force for -- for evil, potentially. As it is a force for good. And for, you know, the free circulation of information. So I think some of it just has to do with our mindset with this. This is -- you know, a new innovation is not good just by definition.

GLENN: Right.

CHARLIE: You have to earn that.

GLENN: Charlie, I had been concerned about this for a very long time. I was really glad to see your article and the fact that it was on Buzzfeed and people are reading it. And I'd love to stay in touch with you and have you on the program again, as we follow this story. Thank you very much, Charlie.

CHARLIE: Thanks for having me.

(music)

STU: Leave you with one last quote from Aviv Ovadya, the expert Charlie talked to: Alarmism can be good. You should be alarmist about this stuff. We are so screwed, it's beyond what most of us can imagine.

I mean, jeez. It's scary. Charlie Warzel tweeted from @worldofStu. But he's @CWarzel on Twitter. You can get his work on Buzzfeed. It's really interesting stuff. He dives into a lot of weird worlds. And it's really compelling.

How RFK's example can help our nation in the wake of Trump's attack

Rowland Scherman / Contributor | Getty Images

How did you feel last Saturday when you heard the news that a former president of the United States narrowly avoided an assassin's bullet by a mere few inches? Were you angry at the media for their constant demonization of Trump and his conservative contingency? Did you blame the left for curating a political climate that fostered an assassination attempt?

In his immediate reaction to the news, Glenn pointed us back to a similar moment in American history: April 4th, 1968—the day Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.

"The best speech I've ever heard given was by RFK Sr. on the day Martin Luther King was killed" - Glenn

Robert F. Kennedy, the father of current independent presidential candidate RFK Jr., was en route to Indianapolis when he heard the terrible news. His security team, expecting violent outrage across the country, asked RFK Sr. to turn around and head back to safety. But as Glenn said, RFK Sr. believed in the good in people and demanded to give his speech. He arrived in Indianapolis Park late in the day, and he addressed the crowd of predominantly black campaign supporters.

There were no riots in Indianapolis that night.

The message RFK Sr. gave that night wasn't one of vengeance, hatred, or hopelessness, but of calm and goodness. He appealed to the best in people. He called for people to set aside their differences, anger, fear, and confusion and instead express love and compassion towards one another. RFK Sr. asked for wisdom and the pursuit of justice so that we might be resolute in our unity as the country faces another difficult chapter.

What we need in this country is love and wisdom and compassion toward one another.

Glenn has made a similar plea to our nation—a plea for unity and not to lash out in fear and anger. Don't use this time to blame your friends and family who disagree with you politically for what happened or to tell them "I told you so!" Instead, reach out with compassion and grace. This is a turning point in American history. Let's turn it upward, away from hatred and violence and towards unison and compassion.

Fortunately, President Trump walked away from his attempted assassination with very minor injuries. The bullet that wounded Trump's ear could have just as easily ended his life, and his survival is nothing short of a miracle.

Sadly, that miracle didn't extend to everyone attending Trump's ill-fated Pennsylvania rally. Three other people were shot. David Dutch and James Copenhaver, both Pennslyavia residents, are thankfully in stable condition. Corey Comperatore, however, tragically died after being shot while protecting his wife and daughter from the hail of gunfire.

“Corey died a hero."

Camperatore, a 50-year-old loving father and husband from Buffalo Township, Pennsylvania leaves behind his daughter Allyson, his wife Helen, sister Dawn, and many other friends and family. Camperatore was a man of service, having spent 43 years as part of the Buffalo Township Volunteer Fire Company and had worked his way to becoming the fire chief when he stepped down to spend more time with his daughter.

Corey Comperatore's firefighting gear outside the Buffalo Township Volunteer Fire Company. The Washington Post / Contributor | Getty Images

Corey's friends and family have nothing but good things to say about him, and judging by their testimonies, Corey's final heroic act was consistent with how the volunteer firefighter lived his life.

According to many people who knew Compertore, he was a true patriot who loved his country. He was a fan of President Trump. Compertore was very excited to attend Saturday's rally, which he expressed in his last social media post.

Corey_Comper/X

During his speech addressing the shooting, President Biden expressed his condolences to the Comperatore family, stating that "He was a father. He was protecting his family from the bullets that were being fired.”

Democrat Mutiny? These prominent Progressives and Democratic leaders DEMAND that Biden withdraw

NurPhoto / Contributor, Justin Sullivan / Staff, Cindy Ord / Staff | Getty Images

Biden is still taking hard blows from both sides of the aisle after his abysmal performance in last month's presidential debate. As Glenn pointed out in his post-debate coverage, Biden came across as so incompetent that it has made many Americans scared that, should the country face a major threat, Biden would be unable to respond to it. This includes many Democrats, who are finally admitting that Biden isn't as fit as they have been claiming for the last four years.

Many names have already been suggested as potential replacements for the Democratic nominee, but many people, including some Democrats, don't believe Biden should even stay in office for the election. Here are some prominent progressives and Democratic lawmakers who have called for President Biden's resignation:

Rep. Lloyd Doggett (Texas)

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Rep. Raúl Grijalva (Arizona)

NurPhoto / Contributor | Getty Images

Rep. Seth Moulton (Massachusetts)

Justin Sullivan / Staff | Getty Images

Rep. Mike Quigley (Illinois)

Pool / Pool | Getty Images

Rep. Angie Craig (Minnesota)

Anna Moneymaker / Staff | Getty Images

Rep. Adam Smith (Washington)

Scott J. Ferrell / Contributor | Getty Images

Rep. Mikie Sherrill (New Jersey)

Chip Somodevilla / Staff | Getty Images

Rep. Pat Ryan (New York)

Tom Williams / Contributor | Getty Images

Rep. Hillary Scholten (Michigan)

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Senator Peter Welch (Vermont)

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Rep. Earl Blumenauer (Oregon)

Chip Somodevilla / Staff | Getty Images

BONUS: Actor George Clooney

Cindy Ord / Staff | Getty Images

These TOP 5 new technologies left Glenn SHOCKED

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Glenn has been covering some of the most groundbreaking, exciting, and often terrifying technological advances. Some new tech has the potential to make a positive impact. Some tech is just SUPER cool, like a flame-throwing robot dog. However, there is also a dark side to technology. Glenn exposes how some new technological developments, particularly in the realm of AI, pose serious ethical questions.

Here are the top five new technologies that Glenn covered that will make your jaw drop:

Anti-gravity device

This new technology developed by Dr. Charles Buhler and his team may change everything we know about transportation and travel. Described as "propellant-less propulsion" by Dr. Buhler, this technology appears to defy gravity and is potentially a way for people to travel into and through space without the need for rockets. It doesn't stop there either, this tech could be used to forever change the way we travel here on Earth.

Human embryo-powered supercomputer

To have massively powerful AI, something, which many people seem to have an invested interest in, you need a lot of electricity to power the computers that host the artificial intelligences. Naturally, this energy consumption upsets the environmentalists so in response a terrifying solution was developed. Bio Processors are essentially computer chips powered by human cells, specifically stem cells, which are predominantly harvested from embryos. These Bio Processors have a limited shelf life, meaning they need a steady supply of stem cells to keep the computers that use them operational. What could be more terrifying than an AI that eats human cells?

Voice-stealing AI

When ChatGPT came out in late 2022 its power and versatility took the world by storm. Suddenly, students had it write entire essays in mere seconds, and it was creating songs and poems with ease. The capabilities of the ChatGPT AI were as disturbing as they were impressive, but after a recent update, it took a hard turn towards disturbing. OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT, decided to give the program a voice and tried to recruit famous actress Scarlett Johansson to lend her voice to the machine. After she declined the offer, OpenAI went ahead and released the update for ChatGPT featuring a voice that sounded eerily similar to Johansson's. While OpenAI claims it's a different, similar-sounding voice actress, the idea that a computer is going around with your stolen voice is terrifying.

Flamethrower robot dog

How could you possibly ever make something cooler than a flamethrower? Simple, strap it to the back of a robotic dog of course! Originally built to help fight forest fires (ironically enough) by creating backburns, Glenn pointed out that a pack of these bad boys patrolling your property would be the ultimate home defense. Nobody would come anywhere near your house if it was guarded by a few of these firey companions.

Wormhole-generating UFO's

It's been a decade since the tragic disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. No trace of the aircraft or any of its passengers, except a few small pieces of debris, were ever found nor was an official cause of the disappearance ever given. There have been an infinite number of theories explaining what might have happened, but this one from investigative journalist Ashton Forbes might take the cake for the wildest. Forbes joined Glenn on his radio show and brought with him convincing video evidence that seemed to show the now-missing aircraft being circled by three mysterious orbs before suddenly disappearing in a flash of light. Does this video show the doomed aircraft being sucked into an artificial wormhole, or is it an amazing piece of hoaxwork?