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As a writer and reader, I’ve been perplexed by the post-elec­tion convul­sions about fake news on Face­book. (Until recently, this was simply known as “someone is wrong on the internet”.) According to the internet outrage machine, Face­book should’ve been filtering out fake news.

Face­book’s argu­ment—that it’s “crazy” that they might’ve influ­enced voters—is inco­herent. Their busi­ness is adver­tising. The goal of adver­tising is to influ­ence people. Espe­cially around dumb but benign activ­i­ties, like buying krill oil. (Draw your own conclu­sions as to whether those suscep­tible to pitches for krill oil might also be suscep­tible to fake news.) Face­book’s argu­ment is also disin­gen­uous: they’ve been explic­itly exper­i­menting with influ­encing voting behavior since 2008.

But the outrage machine is even less coherent. Of course, there is no algo­rithmic, objec­tive way to deter­mine what is “fake”. (Even fake-news prof­i­teer Stephen Colbert strug­gled to distin­guish his art from “just lying”.) The only cure is edito­rial judg­ment. Which is not how Face­book makes money. So this argu­ment really boils down to “the news I insist on getting for free, from Face­book, is not very good.” (Until recently, this prin­ciple was simply known as “you get what you pay for”.)

For readers, the anti­dote to fake news is not to complain about Face­book, or Google, or any of these adver­tising compa­nies who have no incen­tives to act (because for them, fake news = traffic, and traffic = money).

Rather, the anti­dote is to make better choices. Let’s open our wallets and support real jour­nalism! After the elec­tion, I rein­stated home delivery of the New York Times. I also pay for the Wash­ington Post. And the Guardian. The Wall Street Journal is also great. In 1787, Thomas Jefferson warned of the perils of govern­ment without news­pa­pers. As for govern­ment without Face­book—well, for 228 years, we muddled through.