When confusion reigns
One of the hottest topics of debate on Twitter yesterday was whether or not a video of a minor interaction between CNN’s Jim Acosta and a White House aide was edited to make it look more like Acosta was assaulting the aide.
The video was shared by the White House to back up its decision to revoke Acosta’s press pass, but was created by Infowars editor Paul Joseph Watson.
BuzzFeed has a good piece
examining the back and forth between those who furiously declared this a new front in the decline of American politics, and others who pointed out that perhaps the video hadn’t been deliberately manipulated after all.
But here’s the thing – it doesn’t matter whether the video was ‘doctored’ or not, what matters is we’re confused. It’s that confusion – that lack of certainty about what’s real – that will be weaponised by all sides in years to come.
When we know how easy it is to manipulate video and get it to a wide audience, seeds of doubt will spread about the veracity of any video that goes against a particular world view.
It’s easy to imagine a future where people nestle in their own little worlds of 'truth,’ believing everyone else is wrong. If it’s impossible to work out what’s real, you might as well believe what makes sense to you.
Personally, I hope software that can detect anomalies in video, and adapts to tackle future methods of falsification, becomes part of everyone’s everyday life. There is hope for facts.
Of course, someone will no doubt spread a rumour that the verification software is itself a big conspiracy funded by Soros or the Kochs. The truth is going to have to work a lot harder to get a fair hearing in the future.