After listening in on different articles and conversations about internet fraud, it does seem to me that people are manipulating basic human decency and psychology to make these acts plausible. Each one seems to prey on some vulnerability, like human kindness or simple ignorance to an issue. Honestly, I think it says a lot about our society and the sort of invincibility that people seem to feel online. People don’t just go around parading in fake identities pretending to be helpless in order to get someone to empty their entire bank account. That’s just not how the real world works. People don’t print untrue and, quite frankly, incredibly unintelligent news articles and hand them out in the Sunday newspaper the way we see ridiculous stories on our Facebook feed. On the flip side, people seem a lot more likely to believe ridiculous things on the internet than they do in real life. One such example was an article about 1 in 3 Americans being implanted with some microchip (http://nationalreport.net/study-finds-1-3-americans-implanted-rfid-chips-unaware/). While I think it is blatantly obvious that this is not a real thing, the comments are extremely unfortunate, and it would appear that so many people are willing to go along with what they read on the internet. So it seems that the internet and the world of fraud in various forms is mostly split between those taking advantage of and scamming people, and the people who are falling victim to these scams, and it is happening on an alarming scale. This is strong evidence for the idea that people are becoming much different people online. In real life if you act in these ways, you have to be accountable. Online, people can be someone they aren’t and do things that they never would otherwise do and not feel any guilt about it. They feel no need to inform themselves, no need to check the facts, and they are taken advantage of as they mindlessly read these falsities and give away their money to these scammers. It’s a react first, think about it later (or never) sort of community online and the plague of fraudulence is evidence of this.
“Not every fake-website needs to signal its intentions as quickly and openly as The Onion, but The Daily Currant’s headlines don’t engage in subtlety so much as fail entirely to express humorous intention.”
Yes, but these people are not trying to make it humorous like they are trying to get people to believe these fake reports and to cause that knee jerk reaction, and are therefore not failing in their goals at all.
“Although they may be offensive and intentionally injurious, these statements contain constitutionally protected ideas and opinions, provided a reasonable reader would not mistake the statements as describing actual facts”
Yes, but many of these headlines are not actual opinions. They are blatant lies and things that do not make sense at all, and they are taken quite seriously by an alarming number of people. All one has to do is look at the Charlie attacks in Paris to see the implications that satire can have. And while that kind of satire and humor is one that is acceptable and should definitely be protected, much of the junk that fills our Facebook feeds is not opinion and is complete and utter nonsense.
It can become rather tricky when talking about censorship in the media and what should be allowed and what shouldn’t. I am definitely an advocate for freedom of speech and people should be allowed to speak their minds about whatever it is they feel without repercussions. However, publishing things that really have no opinion or merit to them that have the potential to cause hysteria (even though people should be educated enough to see past these things) can be taken much further than the realm of protected speech.