Is Fake News New?

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Is Fake News New?

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“Fake news” became a part of our vocabulary in late 2016 when it was used to try to influence the U.S. presidential election campaign. Here’s the story behind one such story:

“It was early fall, and Donald J. Trump, behind in the polls, seemed to be preparing a rationale in case a winner like him somehow managed to lose. ‘I’m afraid the election is going to be rigged, I have to be honest,’ the Republican nominee told a riled-up crowd in Columbus, Ohio. He was hearing ‘more and more’ about evidence of rigging, he added, leaving the details to his supporters’ imagination.

“A few weeks later, Cameron Harris, a new college graduate with a fervent interest in Maryland Republican politics and a need for cash, sat down at the kitchen table in his apartment to fill in the details Mr. Trump had left out. In a dubious art just coming into its prime, this bogus story would be his masterpiece.

“Mr. Harris started by crafting the headline: ‘BREAKING: Tens of thousands’ of fraudulent Clinton votes found in Ohio warehouse.’

“‘At first it kind of shocked me—the response I was getting,’ Mr. Harris said. ‘How easily people would believe it. It was almost like a sociological experiment’” (Scott Shane, “From Headline to Photograph: A Fake News Masterpiece,” The New York Times, Jan. 18, 2017).

Embedded fake news

Fake news hasn’t slowed down since the election. If anything, it may have grown worse. The Federalist, a conservative web-based news magazine, ran an article titled “16 Fake News Stories Reporters Have Run Since Trump Won”(Daniel Payne, Feb. 6, 2017).

The article reads: “It has become a regular part of our news cycle, not distinct from or extraneous to it but a part of it, embedded within the news apparatus as a spoke is embedded in a bicycle wheel.

“Whenever you turn on a news station, visit a news website, or check in on a journalist or media personality on Twitter or Facebook, there is an excellent chance you will be exposed to fake news. It is rapidly becoming an accepted part of the way the American media are run.”

Let’s note a few examples.

Fake news: transgender suicides rose due to Trump win: The article continues: “After Trump’s electoral victory on November 8, rumors began circulating that multiple transgender teenagers had killed themselves in response to the election results. There was no basis to these rumors. Nobody was able to confirm them at the time, and nobody has been able to confirm [them] in the three months since Trump was elected … The stories hyping this idea garnered at least nearly 100,000 shares on Facebook alone, contributing to the fear and hysteria surrounding Trump’s win.”

Fake news: MLK Jr. bust removed: “On January 20, TIME [magazine] reporter Zeke Miller wrote that a bust of Martin Luther King Jr. had been removed from the White House. This caused a flurry of controversy on social media until Miller issued a correction. As TIME put it, Miller had apparently not even asked anyone in the White House if the bust had been removed. He simply assumed it had been because ‘he had looked for it and had not seen it’” (ibid.)

Fake news: travel ban led to death: “On January 31, a Fox affiliate station out of Detroit reported that ‘A local business owner who flew to Iraq to bring his mother back home to the US for medical treatment said she was blocked from returning home under President Trump’s ban on immigration and travel from seven predominately Muslim nations. He said that while she was waiting for approval to fly home, she died from an illness’ … The story spread so far because it gratified all the biases of the liberal media elite: it proved that Trump’s ‘Muslim ban’ was an evil, racist Hitler-esque mother-killer of an executive order.

“There was just one problem: it was a lie. The man had lied about when his mother died. The Fox affiliate hadn’t bothered to do the necessary research to confirm or disprove the man’s account. The news station quietly corrected the story after giving rise to such wild, industrial-scale hysteria” (ibid.).

The Federalist article went on to list many other similar examples of sloppy, biased or downright false reporting designed to discredit the new presidential administration.

Has the United States become so jaded by our affluence that we value the magic of technology more highly than basic human kindness and decency? Could it be that the pervasiveness and anonymity of social media encourages some to manipulate and destroy others for profit? Is there something about the human condition that helps to expose this phenomenon?

Why do people make up fake news?

The Bible reveals why human beings make up fake news. Fake news is at once simple and complex—simple because it comes from one source and complex because that one source can unpredictably conjure up many socially unacceptable thoughts.

Scripture reveals that our minds and hearts are corrupt: “The human mind [including the heart or feelings] is the most deceitful of all things. It is incurable . No one can understand how deceitful it is” (Jeremiah 17:9 Jeremiah 17:9The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
American King James Version×
, God’s Word Translation, emphasis added throughout).

Jesus said to His disciples, “If you then, being evil [that is, having the corrupted nature contrary to God that is common to man], know how to give good gifts to your children …” (Matthew 7:11 Matthew 7:11If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?
American King James Version×
). The apostle Paul lamented the human condition: “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate” (Romans 7:15 Romans 7:15For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.
American King James Version×
, New Living Translation).

Fake news embodies the evil part of human nature. “It is not what people put in their mouth that makes them wrong. It is what comes out of their mouth that makes them wrong” (Matthew 15:11 Matthew 15:11Not that which goes into the mouth defiles a man; but that which comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.
American King James Version×
, Easy-to-Read Version).

Surprisingly, fake news didn’t begin with human beings. It began with an unseen power that makes use of deceitful and indirect methods to lead humanity down a path to destruction, deceit and death.

Who originated fake news?

Fake news began with and is perpetuated by the god of this world. Satan is very angry at you and me. His devious, scheming goal is to destroy humanity by motivating us to do his dirty work: “The god of this world has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. As a result, they don’t see the light of the Good News about Christ’s glory” (2 Corinthians 4:4 2 Corinthians 4:4In whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine to them.
American King James Version×
, GW).

Satan didn’t start out that way. He was originally an honored, high-ranking angel. But he went rogue. He rebelled and became Satan, meaning adversary or enemy, the destroyer of all things (see Ezekiel 28:12-19 Ezekiel 28:12-19 12 Son of man, take up a lamentation on the king of Tyrus, and say to him, Thus said the Lord GOD; You seal up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. 13 You have been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of your tabrets and of your pipes was prepared in you in the day that you were created. 14 You are the anointed cherub that covers; and I have set you so: you were on the holy mountain of God; you have walked up and down in the middle of the stones of fire. 15 You were perfect in your ways from the day that you were created, till iniquity was found in you. 16 By the multitude of your merchandise they have filled the middle of you with violence, and you have sinned: therefore I will cast you as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy you, O covering cherub, from the middle of the stones of fire. 17 Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty, you have corrupted your wisdom by reason of your brightness: I will cast you to the ground, I will lay you before kings, that they may behold you. 18 You have defiled your sanctuaries by the multitude of your iniquities, by the iniquity of your traffic; therefore will I bring forth a fire from the middle of you, it shall devour you, and I will bring you to ashes on the earth in the sight of all them that behold you. 19 All they that know you among the people shall be astonished at you: you shall be a terror, and never shall you be any more.
American King James Version×
). God exposes Satan as the serpent (Genesis 3:1 Genesis 3:1Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, Yes, has God said, You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
American King James Version×
), the dragon, the devil (false accuser, Revelation 12:10 Revelation 12:10And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brothers is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.
American King James Version×
), and “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2 Ephesians 2:2Wherein in time past you walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience:
American King James Version×
).

Lucifer became narcissistic and corrupted himself (Ezekiel 28:12-18 Ezekiel 28:12-18 12 Son of man, take up a lamentation on the king of Tyrus, and say to him, Thus said the Lord GOD; You seal up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. 13 You have been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of your tabrets and of your pipes was prepared in you in the day that you were created. 14 You are the anointed cherub that covers; and I have set you so: you were on the holy mountain of God; you have walked up and down in the middle of the stones of fire. 15 You were perfect in your ways from the day that you were created, till iniquity was found in you. 16 By the multitude of your merchandise they have filled the middle of you with violence, and you have sinned: therefore I will cast you as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy you, O covering cherub, from the middle of the stones of fire. 17 Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty, you have corrupted your wisdom by reason of your brightness: I will cast you to the ground, I will lay you before kings, that they may behold you. 18 You have defiled your sanctuaries by the multitude of your iniquities, by the iniquity of your traffic; therefore will I bring forth a fire from the middle of you, it shall devour you, and I will bring you to ashes on the earth in the sight of all them that behold you.
American King James Version×
). He rebelled against God and tried to throw Him off His throne (Isaiah 14:13-14 Isaiah 14:13-14 13 For you have said in your heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also on the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
American King James Version×
). Instead, God threw Satan back to the earth and constrained him here (Luke 10:18 Luke 10:18And he said to them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.
American King James Version×
; Jude 1:6 Jude 1:6And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness to the judgment of the great day.
American King James Version×
). Now, since Adam and Eve chose to follow him in their sin, Satan rules over the kingdoms of men until Christ returns (Matthew 4:8-9 Matthew 4:8-9 8 Again, the devil takes him up into an exceeding high mountain, and shows him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; 9 And said to him, All these things will I give you, if you will fall down and worship me.
American King James Version×
; John 12:31 John 12:31Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.
American King James Version×
; John 14:30 John 14:30Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world comes, and has nothing in me.
American King James Version×
; John 16:11 John 16:11Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.
American King James Version×
; Isaiah 14:16-17 Isaiah 14:16-17 16 They that see you shall narrowly look on you, and consider you, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms; 17 That made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners?
American King James Version×
; Revelation 20:1-3 Revelation 20:1-3 1 And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. 2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, 3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.
American King James Version×
).

Since Satan couldn’t remove God from His throne, he turned his anger on God’s creations—the earth and its inhabitants. If you can’t destroy the Creator, then destroy His creation.

Universal fake news

The originator and perpetuator of universal fake news is Satan, who substitutes imitations of God’s good news with a fake version. Listen to God’s warning through the apostle Paul: “For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it!” (2 Corinthians 11:4 2 Corinthians 11:4For if he that comes preaches another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if you receive another spirit, which you have not received, or another gospel, which you have not accepted, you might well bear with him.
American King James Version×
).

Paul further tells us that “… Satan … transforms himself into an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14 2 Corinthians 11:14And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
American King James Version×
).

But Satan is not an angel of light; he is the prince of darkness (Colossians 1:13 Colossians 1:13 Who has delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
American King James Version×
) who blinds most of this world to Christ’s glorious good news (Colossians 1:26 Colossians 1:26 Even the mystery which has been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:
American King James Version×
).

His falsehoods include, but are not limited to, the promotion of celebrations such as Christmas and Easter and worshipping on Sunday, the first day of the week (rather than the biblically commanded seventh-day Sabbath). Yet Jesus Christ and His disciples never observed or taught these. As even the New Catholic Encyclopedia admits:

“The earliest Christians did not immediately dissociate themselves from the observance of the Jewish feasts [actually the Lord’s feasts of Leviticus 23]. Many references in the N[ew] T[estament] indicate that Jesus and His disciples, as well as the early Palestinian Christian communities [that is, God’s Church as referred to in the book of Acts and other New Testament letters], observed the Sabbath and the major annual [biblical] festivals” (1967, “Early Christian Feasts,” Vol. 5, p. 867; see also Alexander Hislop, The Two Babylons, 1959, pp. 93-97, 103-104).

Fake news as a lie

God’s Ninth Commandment condemns lying (Exodus 20:16 Exodus 20:16You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
American King James Version×
). Jesus brands Satan a liar and the originator of lying (John 8:44 John 8:44You are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and stayed not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
American King James Version×
). Lying is sin, which God hates (Proverbs 6:16-19 Proverbs 6:16-19 16 These six things does the LORD hate: yes, seven are an abomination to him: 17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18 An heart that devises wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, 19 A false witness that speaks lies, and he that sows discord among brothers.
American King James Version×
). Those who persist in this sin will ultimately suffer permanent death in the lake of fire (Romans 6:23 Romans 6:23For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
American King James Version×
; Revelation 21:8 Revelation 21:8But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and fornicators, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
American King James Version×
).

Satan’s propagation of fake news has corrupted humankind from creation, and he is dedicated to the annihilation of human life (Isaiah 14:6 Isaiah 14:6He who smote the people in wrath with a continual stroke, he that ruled the nations in anger, is persecuted, and none hinders.
American King James Version×
; Isaiah 14:17 Isaiah 14:17That made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners?
American King James Version×
; Matthew 24:21-22 Matthew 24:21-22 21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.
American King James Version×
; Revelation 12:9 Revelation 12:9And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
American King James Version×
; Revelation 12:12 Revelation 12:12Therefore rejoice, you heavens, and you that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has but a short time.
American King James Version×
). God’s good news, in contrast, is healing, hopeful and peaceful, and it leads to everlasting life.

The good news is that fake news will be gone after Jesus Christ establishes the Kingdom of God on earth following His return. Christmas, Easter and so many of today’s major religious beliefs, which are contrary to God, will become forgotten history (Mark 7:7 Mark 7:7However, in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
American King James Version×
; Isaiah 66:23 Isaiah 66:23And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, said the LORD.
American King James Version×
). Humanity will then keep God’s holy laws and Sabbaths (Hebrews 8:10-11 Hebrews 8:10-11 10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, said the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: 11 And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.
American King James Version×
) that liberate us (James 1:25 James 1:25But whoever looks into the perfect law of liberty, and continues therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.
American King James Version×
) from spiritual hoaxes and reveal God’s master plan of salvation for all humankind.

God’s good news will overwhelmingly triumph over Satan’s lies and fake news: “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32 John 8:32And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
American King James Version×
).