Inventing conspiracies

It’s a cliché, but I’m serious: If you read just one thing today, it ought to be this account of an ex-Infowars staffer.

Days before, we spoke to the sheriff and the mayor of Deposit, N.Y., a nearby municipality. They both told us the people in Islamberg were kind, generous neighbors who welcomed the surrounding community into their homes, even celebrating holidays together.

The information did not meet our expectations, so we made it up, preying on the vulnerable and feeding the prejudices and fears of Jones’s audience. We ignored certain facts, fabricated others and took situations out of context to fit our narrative, posting headlines like:

Drone Investigates Islamic Training Center

Shariah Law Zones Confirmed in America

Infowars Reporters Stalked by Terrorism Task Force

Report: Obama’s Terror Cells in the U.S.

The Rumors Are True: Shariah Law Is Here!

Everybody with a properly functioning mind has known this all along, but it’s good to have it in black-and-white from one of the participants. Unfortunately, the people who fall for this nonsense won’t believe it; they’ll think somebody ‘got’ to the author.

In the very early days of the Internet I made the same error that was made in the early days of television: I thought it was such a magnificent educational tool that it would be a benefit. The sad reality is that it has become a device for triggering and manipulating idiots.

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