One of Hillary Clinton’s fiercest defenders during the 2016 campaign is turning his super PAC’s firepower on the proliferation of “fake news.”
During a press call on Tuesday, David Brock, founder of Clinton-backing super PAC American Bridge, told reporters that Media Matters, a media monitoring arm of Brock’s opposition research arm, will develop a coherent strategy to push back against fake news.
“We were all a little late to understanding the far-reaching impacts of fake news,” Brock said.
He added: “It’s not easy, it’s a complicated problem. But it’s not one we fail to notice.”
Brock said he would join efforts to pressure tech companies like Facebook and Google to better filter out fake news. The American Bridge founder argued that after Facebook removed its news curation team following criticism that the team was devaluing some conservative media outlets, the social network increased the spread of “fake news” stories.
“When Facebook came under right-wing pressure back in June and fired a bunch of editors, it became clear that a lot of garbage started spewing out of Facebook,” Brock said, referencing the social media giant’s decision to nix human editors in favour of allowing an algorithm to curate its small “trending” news box on the site.
“So the first order of business is for some of these companies to adopt some standards and clean their own house,” he added. “And we’re going to be involved in a campaign to push them to do the right thing and do that.”
Last month, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg dismissed the idea that fake news substantially influenced the presidential election as “pretty crazy,” but added that the company would work to curb the spread of misinformation on users’ timelines. Both Google and Facebook announced in November that they would stop allowing fake news sites to monetise using ads through their ad platforms.
During Tuesday’s call, Brock also told reporters that Media Matters was examining tools to better track the spread of fake news online.
“We’ll be looking at different technologies that allow us to better monitor what’s going on in terms of fake news. It was definitely a huge problem in the election, and one that we’re dedicated to trying to solve. There was a day when Media Matters was built for talk radio and Fox News, and clearly the action and the misinformation have moved into other venues, and we’re going to commit ourselves to working against that.”
The American Bridge founder has been the target of fake news.
On Sunday, an armed man entered Comet Ping Pong, a pizzeria in Northwest Washington that online conspiracy theorists became convinced — despite any concrete evidence — that the restaurant was a front for a child sex ring linked to lobbyist Tony Podesta and Brock, who dated owner James Alefantis.
Though Brock opined at length on the impact of fake news on political discourse, he declined to respond to questions about his feelings about being the target of fake news.
Tuesday’s press call came as top Clinton allies are attempting to regroup following the former secretary of state’s upset loss to President-elect Donald Trump despite Clinton’s massive opposition research operation.
Brock announced earlier this month that he will convene a meeting of top Democratic donors during inauguration weekend to figure out how to “kick Donald Trump’s arse.”
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