• Number2018
    273
    A new survey from the Pew Research Center has found that Americans view fake news as the greatest threat: https://www.journalism.org/2019/06/05/many-americans-say-made-up-news-is-a-critical-problem-that-needs-to-be-fixed/

    Taken up by surveys and media, “Fake news” usually designates made-up, false news and information. But, it could also constitute a promising object of academic research.
    Farkas and Schou have applied discursive theory, developed by Laclau and Mouffe: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13183222.2018.1463047

    Differently, Zizek assumes that “Fake news” has been the indispensable result of our
    post-modern conditions; implicitly, he involves the emergence of new regimes of truth (“post-facts” and “post-truth”): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nI8z8EL1M-s

    Both approaches try to bring the argument into a non-partisan, scholarly level.
    Yet, it is not clear if Laclau and Mouffe's understanding of discourses as attempts to fix a web of meanings and to achieve hegemony within a particular domain can adequately model such complex phenomenon as Fake news. On the other hand, Zizek, outlining it briefly, could not fully articulate its singularity and novelty.
    So, what is “Fake news”?
  • miguel d
    12
    We were keeping our eye on 1984. When the year came and the prophecy didn't, thoughtful Americans sang softly in praise of themselves. The roots of liberal democracy had held. Wherever else the terror had happened, we, at least, had not been visited by Orwellian nightmares. But we had forgotten that alongside Orwell's dark vision, there was another--slightly older, slightly less well known, equally chilling: Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. Contrary to common belief even among the educated, Huxley and Orwell did not prophesy the same thing. Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed oppression. But in Huxley's vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think. What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny "failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions." In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.

    Neil Postman, "Amusing Ourselves To Death"
  • Fooloso4
    1k
    Fake news is a term that Donald Trump claims he invented, which, of course, is not true but is an excellent example of fake news.

    There has always been what is now called fake news - propaganda, lies, misinformation, disinformation, but this is not news.

    Very quickly the news was severed from the fake. Fake news now serves as a topic for academics and intellectuals, which can generate its own abuses, that is, "fake news".
  • Number2018
    273

    Both books are great, but I do not think literature or literary criticism could be relevant to understand fake news.
  • ZhouBoTong
    445
    Once all opinions are equal, then facts are irrelevant. So what counts as "news"?

    Doesn't "fake news" just mean "I disagree"?
  • Number2018
    273

    Fake news has both components of the agreement as well as disagreement, and it does not express merely someone’s private opinion.
  • ZhouBoTong
    445
    Fake news has both components of the agreement as well as disagreement, and it does not express merely someone’s private opinion.Number2018

    Hmmmm, that sounds right. But I may need to see examples. Almost every time I hear "fake news", it just means the speaker disagrees. Surely every time Trump uses the phrase is an example of my point.

    I am just pointing to usage...kind of like how "literally" now means "figuratively" more often than its actual dictionary definition.

    And I am NOT suggesting it is simply "opinion", but that it is typically just "opinion".

    And you are certainly right that there is A LOT of room for academic study.
  • halo
    45
    There’s a tipping point when journalism cherry picks it’s facts just to support their personal agenda or ideology. Certain facts are more relevant to a particular story and that does not have to be strictly subjective.
  • Artemis
    1.2k
    I do not think literature or literary criticism could be relevant to understand fake news.Number2018

    Because....?
  • Bitter Crank
    8.2k
    If there was, is, or will be a crisis over "fake news" it will be less the fakery and more the refusal of the public to evaluate what they hear and sift the wheat from the chaff. This isn't something one can just wake up one day and do. It takes practice.

    It doesn't take a news junkie to recognise that "MOON WILL CRASH INTO EARTH NEXT WEEK" is fake news. On the other hand, it can be more difficult to tell whether the latest stupid thing the POTUS has said is true, fake, or neither -- just sounds the mouth of the POTUS happened to make at some point.

    Teaching the public that they can't tell between truth and fakery is useful for dictatorships.
  • fishfry
    787
    Definitional question. In 2002 the NYT ran stories by Judith Miller alleging that Saddam Hussein was acquiring yellowcake uranium and aluminum tubes for the construction of WMDs Those articles, appearing as they did day after day after day in the Paper of Record (TM), helped turn the tide of public opinion in favor of invading Iraq, and gave cover to politicians (Hillary and Joe Biden to name two) to vote for Bush's war despite millions of liberals (who used to be against war, way back in the day) marching in the streets against it. That was by the way the last time we saw anything from the anti-war movement in this country. Something that troubles me.

    As it turned out in the fullness of time, those articles were lies. To be absolutely clear, they were not well-intended mistakes. They were deliberate fabrications for the purpose of lying the country into war.

    Now, would you or would you not define that as Fake News?

    If you say yes, then in terms of reach and influence and bloody consequences, the NYT is the greatest purveyor of Fake News in the world.

    On the other hand if you say no, that BY DEFINITION whatever is in the Times isn't fake news because the definition of Fake News is NEVER what the Times prints, it's only what people QUESTIONING the Times print. So it's more of a definitional thing, having nothing to do with whether a consequential news story happens to be true in any objective sense. If the Times prints it it's not Fake News.

    So pick one. NYT stories on Saddam's WMDs that drove the country into a disastrous war that we're still stuck in: Fake News or not Fake News?
  • Wayfarer
    8.3k
    In 2002 the NYT ran stories by Judith Miller alleging that Saddam Hussein was acquiring yellowcake uranium and aluminum tubes for the construction of WMDsfishfry

    Is that so? I have been searching in the NYT archives for a reference to that story. I did find one later editorial, a mea culpa of sorts, which said

    On Sept. 8, 2002, the lead article of the paper was headlined ''U.S. Says Hussein Intensified Quest for A-Bomb Parts.'' That report concerned the aluminum tubes that the administration advertised insistently as components for the manufacture of nuclear weapons fuel. The claim came not from defectors but from the best American intelligence sources available at the time. Still, it should have been presented more cautiously.

    Attached there's a retrospective of everything ever published on the topic at https://archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/ref/international/middleeast/20040526CRITIQUE.html but it might be firewalled (I'm a subscriber so it's visible to me. It seems to me it was published in response to charges that the NYT did indeed cheer the invasion on.)

    In any case, unlike genuine fake news (!), the NYT at least publishes corrections, listens to criticism, and tries to correct the record.

    Also, note that the story headlined 'THREATS AND RESPONSES: THE IRAQIS; U.S. SAYS HUSSEIN INTENSIFIES QUEST FOR A-BOMB PARTS', co-authored by Judith Miller, starts with:

    More than a decade after Saddam Hussein agreed to give up weapons of mass destruction, Iraq has stepped up its quest for nuclear weapons and has embarked on a worldwide hunt for materials to make an atomic bomb, Bush administration officials said today.

    and says further down that:

    Iraq's pursuit of nuclear weapons has been cited by hard-liners in the Bush administration to make the argument that the United States must act now, before Mr. Hussein acquires nuclear arms and thus alters the strategic balance in the oil-rich Persian Gulf.

    This reportage, then, refers to US intelligence reports and also quotes Bush government sources 'alarmed' by Hussein's alleged interest in acquiring nuclear weapons.

    I think a lot of that article is speculative but as far as I'm concerned, given the circumstances and the available information, it was a reasonable article, not 'pro-war propaganda'.

    (Incidentally I also learned that Judith Miller had been jailed in a later affair where she refused to divulge sources relating to a story about the CIA.)

    Which leads me to think that

    They were deliberate fabrications for the purpose of lying the country into war.fishfry

    This statement is also a fabrication. And also 'whataboutism'. 'What about those NY Times folks eh?'

    As far as fake news generally - I've been depressed to notice that many friends and people I respect, are now convinced that 'climate change is not established by the science', and that 'there's nothing Australia can do to combat climate change' - the kinds of fake news memes that merchants of doubt have been disseminating since Al Gore came out with Inconvenient Truth. And it's worked, it's done the job.
  • Coben
    802
    So pick one. NYT stories on Saddam's WMDs that drove the country into a disastrous war that we're still stuck in: Fake News or not Fake News?fishfry

    The NYT is considered liberal. Conservative papers and liberal ones in general supported the WMB disinformation campaign and together helped the Bush Admin get us into that war. It certaily wasn't like there was some conservative outcry against that war. More on the Left were skeptical, but in general the mainstream media en masse supported the BS.
  • Number2018
    273
    And I am NOT suggesting it is simply "opinion", but that it is typically just "opinion".ZhouBoTong
    Any private opinion, after all, appears to be a typical, common opinion. Further, taken up by mass media or social media, it acquires some attributes of truthful knowledge.
  • Number2018
    273
    I do not think literature or literary criticism could be relevant to understand fake news.
    — Number2018

    Because....?
    NKBJ
    Both Huxley and Orwell grounded their narrations on simple ideas of utopia and dystopia, and both are in perfect fit with regimes of the truth of grand narratives of modernity. Within our postmodern conditions, grand narratives have been wholly compromised and transformed.
  • Number2018
    273

    It doesn't take a news junkie to recognise that "MOON WILL CRASH INTO EARTH NEXT WEEK" is fake news.Bitter Crank
    What was October 30, 1938 Orson Welles’s radio broadcast about? “The War of the Worlds”
    included “news alerts” that led the listener to believe that the show was
    presenting actual events. This was not because of the content (which was
    ridiculous) but authoritative because of the format of the presentation.
  • Number2018
    273
    As it turned out in the fullness of time, those articles were lies. To be absolutely clear, they were not well-intended mistakes. They were deliberate fabrications for the purpose of lying the country into war.fishfry

    The problem with your example that you make the judgment "in the fullness of time".
    Yet, maybe at the time of publication, those articles relied on plausible information.

    Now, would you or would you not define that as Fake News?fishfry
    To answer your question, we need a well formulated and operative definition of fake news. The following definitions are insufficient:

    "false news stories, often of a sensational nature, created to be widely shared or distributed for the purpose of generating revenue, oor promoting or discrediting a public figure, political movement, company, etc."
    "false stories that appear to be news, spread on the internet or using other media, usually created to influence political views or as a joke"
    "Fake news, also known as junk news or pseudo-news, is a type of yellow journalism or propaganda that consists of deliberate disinformation or hoaxes spread via traditional news media (print and broadcast) or online social media. ... The relevance of fake news has increased in post-truth politics."
  • Number2018
    273

    unlike genuine fake news (!), the NYT at least publishes corrections, listens to criticism, and tries to correct the record.Wayfarer

    It could be interesting to compare the “two kinds of news”: “genuine fake news,” and that of mainstream media. From the one side, mainstream media has institutional, legal, and professional restrains, comparing to independent and almost unregulated social media. From another side, we can doubt that mainstream media report things because they’re true, they talk about them because of their importance, and they write articles because “the public need to know.” The MSM primarily report things that serve an agenda, true or false, real or imaginary. The narrative matters much more than the facts. Further, the (in)compatibility and interchangeability of narratives, their short life and high speed of their circulation create a ground for what we call “genuine fake news.”

    fake news memes that merchants of doubt have been disseminating since Al Gore came out with Inconvenient Truth.Wayfarer
    Al Gore made a remarkable presentation; unfortunately, I lost its tracks. Yet, its merits,
    style, and form, so different from academic research, could be taken up by opposite narratives.
  • Fooloso4
    1k


    They were deliberate fabrications for the purpose of lying the country into war.fishfry

    Are you claiming that Judith Miller was guilty of deliberate fabrications? What evidence do you have of this? She reported what she was told by her sources, many of whom were government, military, and intelligence. There is an important distinction between reporting what turned out to be fabrications, including those by the Bush administration, and fabricating stories.

    If you say yes, then in terms of reach and influence and bloody consequences, the NYT is the greatest purveyor of Fake News in the world.fishfry

    By your logic every news outlet that covered what George W. Bush claimed, what Dick Cheney claimed, what Colin Powell claimed, what Condoleezza Rice claimed, what Donald Rumsfeld claimed, and what others in the government, military, and intelligence claimed about weapons of mass destruction are complicit as purveyors of Fake News.

    Every news source gets it wrong sometimes but to blur the distinction between legitimate, credible sources of information and deliberate fabricators of lies and misinformation is a serious error.

    BY DEFINITION whatever is in the Times isn't fake news because the definition of Fake News is NEVER what the Times printsfishfry

    Except the NYT came to realize that it had been misled and should have done more to verify to reliability of the information they had reported.

    So pick one. NYT stories on Saddam's WMDs that drove the country into a disastrous war that we're still stuck in: Fake News or not Fake News?fishfry

    You have got this backwards. It was the Bush administration that drove the country to war and they did not do so because they were persuaded to by the NYT or by any other news outlet or by public opinion. As far as what influenced public opinion, the readership of the NYT was nowhere near the number of viewers of television nightly news or listeners to radio reports.

    So pick one. Either you are not able to see the distinction between fabricating a story and reporting on a fabrication or you are aware of the difference but ignore it in order to create your own fabrication.
  • Echarmion
    632
    There has always been what is now called fake news - propaganda, lies, misinformation, disinformation, but this is not news.Fooloso4

    I'd be fine with calling fake news a form of propaganda - if indeed it is used for propaganda purposes. But fake news is a specific form of propaganda. One that uses specifically the way news propagate via the internet, and more specifically social networks, in order to distribute false or misleading content. At it's most benign, it's merely clickbait, but it can be used for disinformation campaigns.
  • Fooloso4
    1k
    But fake news is a specific form of propaganda. One that uses specifically the way news propagate via the internet, and more specifically social networks, in order to distribute false or misleading content.Echarmion

    The term originated in response to false information via social media with links to websites that propagated false information, much of which benefited Trump in the election. Trump in turn accused "mainstream media" of being fake news. The transformation was aided by the fact that for years Fox News and others had sold the idea that it was the "liberal media". Trump drew the battle lines conservatives/Christians/Evangelicals against liberals and their news sources, which he labelled the enemy of the people. And so, anything that sheds an unfavorable light on Trump is "fake news". He effectively owns the term.
  • ssu
    1.5k
    Differently, Zizek assumes that “Fake news” has been the indispensable result of our
    post-modern conditions; implicitly, he involves the emergence of new regimes of truth (“post-facts” and “post-truth”
    Number2018
    And this is why I don't believe in Post-Modernism. It's criticized from both left and right. It simply is bullshit.

    Besides, false propaganda has existed for a long time, no matter what Trump says. Social media has just given it some credibility, because people want to hear what they want to hear.
  • fishfry
    787
    Are you claiming that Judith Miller was guilty of deliberate fabrications? What evidence do you have of this?Fooloso4

    I Googled "Judith Miller lies. Iinterestingly, when I Googled "Judith Miller," Google autocompleted "lies" as the first suggestion.

    I was going to start posting links, but to save wear and tear on my fingers you can click for yourself. There are over 17 million results.

    https://www.google.com/search?ei=FsQTXf-MG-iU0gK2moigBw&q=judith+miller+lies&oq=judith+miller+lies&gs_l=psy-ab.3...0.0..22328...0.0..0.0.0.......0......gws-wiz.Glrx2suS-Sw


    That anyone would respond to my post by claiming Judith Miller had no agenda when she used the NYT to help lie the country into war is ludicrous. The facts are well-known. You still hanging on to hope the WMDs will be found? There were no WMDs. The NYT helped Bush lie the country into war. If you don't know this, you're the last person in the country to find out.
  • Number2018
    273

    Differently, Zizek assumes that “Fake news” has been the indispensable result of our
    post-modern conditions; implicitly, he involves the emergence of new regimes of truth (“post-facts” and “post-truth”
    — Number2018
    And this is why I don't believe in Post-Modernism. It's criticized from both left and right. It simply is bullshit.
    ssu
    Unfortunately, this is the state of affairs; it does not depend on yours or my personal
    beliefs. We can call it variously if you don’t like Post-Modernism. Nietzsche called it
    "will to power," and Deleuze – "the power of the false."

    Besides, false propaganda has existed for a long time, no matter what Trump says. Social media has just given it some credibility, because people want to hear what they want to hear.ssu

    You are right. Yet, Zizek also points out that there are positive aspects of "fake news":
    spontaneity, uncontrollability, and freedom of expression.
  • Fooloso4
    1k
    I Googled "Judith Miller lies. Iinterestingly, when I Googled "Judith Miller," Google autocompleted "lies" as the first suggestion.fishfry

    Apparently you do not know how google works via algorithms based on what is on your computer.

    I googled it and the first entry was Wikipedia followed by a story about her release from prison then her position at the Manhattan Institute and then www.judithmiller.com.

    As to the aluminum tubes mentioned in the first link, Wiki cites Chris Mathews:

    A substantial part of the story was based on deliberate leaking of classified information to the Times reporters by Scooter Libby, the chief of staff of Vice President Dick Cheney
    (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iraqi_aluminum_tubes)

    The article goes on to cite a CIA report:

    In July 2002, in the run up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the CIA reported to Congress that "Iraq's efforts to procure tens of thousands of proscribed high-strength aluminum tubes are of significant concern. All intelligence experts agree that Iraq is seeking nuclear weapons and that these tubes could be used in a centrifuge enrichment program. Most intelligence specialists assess this to be the intended use, but some believe that these tubes are probably intended for conventional weapons programs."

    You still hanging on to hope the WMDs will be found?fishfry

    A weak attempt at diversion. I agree with the following from the article you cited:

    Salon’s Juan Cole, however, cautions against viewing Miller as a puppet of the neocons. He writes, “In the end, it seems that Miller will go down in history not so much as a true believer as a useful idiot.”

    This is supported by Mathews claim that the information was deliberately leaked to her. She did not make up the lies, she reported what was fed to her. As a journalism she had a responsibility to be more critical of the information she received, but she was repeating and not making up lies.

    The NYT helped Bush lie the country into war. If you don't know this, you're the last person in the country to find out.fishfry

    Are you claiming that without Miller's stories in the NYT we would not have gone to war?

    Once again, there is a difference between manufacturing lies, which the Bush administration and other sources she relied on did, and repeating them, which Miller did. You have not provided any evidence that Miller fabricated or the NYT fabricated lies.
  • Wayfarer
    8.3k
    That anyone would respond to my post by claiming Judith Miller had no agenda when she used the NYT to help lie the country into war is ludicrous.fishfry

    The term "fake news" is overwhelmingly associated with the election of Donald J Trump, who popularised the term by smearing the media on every available opportunity and saying every criticism of him was 'fake news'. He acknowledged doing this right up front, before his election, so as to undermine investigations of him by the news media, leading his supporters into hysterical condemnation of 'the liberal media'. Furthermore 'Donald Trump tweeted or retweeted posts about "fake news" or "fake media" 176 times as of Dec. 20, 2017, according to an online archive of all of Trump's tweets. 1

    The NY Times is front and centre in attacks from Trump. He routinely refers to them as the 'failing New York Times', not least because of their exposés on his shady business practices and fraudulent claims (such as the Pullitzer-winning bombshell last October.) So, in the thread about 'Fake News', you lead with how the NY Times is indeed a purveyor of fake news! Look how they lead us into war with Iraq!

    So it seems to me that your leading with a criticism of the New York Times is an attempt to divert the thread away from the topic of the relationship of 'conservative' politics and media, by trying to prove that what is generally called 'the liberal media' beat Fox and the other "conservative" media outlets to it. Would that be right, or am I misreading you?

    The MSM primarily report things that serve an agenda, true or false, real or imaginary. The narrative matters much more than the facts. Further, the (in)compatibility and interchangeability of narratives, their short life and high speed of their circulation create a ground for what we call “genuine fake news.”Number2018

    I am perfectly aware that both the Washington Post, and the New York Times, and the many other outlets I routinely read and listen to on my devices (Australian Broadcasting Corp, Slate, The Daily Beast, CNN, Sydney Morning Herald, The Guardian) are left-leaning in some respects, and that they have editorial stances, although the US media in particular makes an effort to include voices from across the political spectrum.

    But I can make up my own mind, and I don't believe they're following 'an agenda', so much as reflecting the 'consumerization of news' that was written about extensively by Neil Postman, in books such as his Amusing Ourselves to Death, and Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology. There are certainly themes that are always subject to editorial control in those outlets, in fact in one instance causing me to cancel a subscription. But I can spot editorial bias when I see it. However a lot of the 'disinformation' that is circulated is due to our collective short attention span ('click!'), the constant desire for novelty, and the impossibility to go into any kind of depth via hyper- and visual media (which is what Neil Postman was on about.)

    However, the role of Fox News in manipulating both the electorate, and Donald J. Trump, is one of the (many) current scandals of the administration and prime examples of "pushing an agenda". Fox News routinely peddles misinformation, parrots Trump's untruths, and feeds inflammatory content to the Watcher in Chief, with whom it enjoys a symbiotic relationship. There have been numerous articles in the so-called 'liberal media' about this fact. So they're really trying, and succeeding, to shape the agenda; as do many of the Chinese state media, and sections of the Russian media, and many other players, large and small, in this hyper-connected age.
  • Artemis
    1.2k
    Both Huxley and Orwell grounded their narrations on simple ideas of utopia and dystopia, and both are in perfect fit with regimes of the truth of grand narratives of modernity. Within our postmodern conditions, grand narratives have been wholly compromised and transformed.Number2018

    That does not answer my question. In fact, it kind of suggests literary criticism would be pretty helpful, if you know anything at all about literary criticism.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.2k
    Maybe the form was more important than the content for the Martian invasion panic. However, this was 1938. While radio wasn't totally new (regular broadcasting began in 1920) it took time to develop stations, networks, good receivers, and sources of content. The content on radio stations had been quite bland; music, sports, comedy, etc. "Fright" was not the reaction established broadcasters were aiming for.

    A year earlier the Hindenburg air ship had burned up as it attempted a landing in New Jersey. Nothing to do with the War of the Worlds, but the reporter covering the disaster had become very emotional during his report. If I remember correctly, he was either fired or demoted for the emotionality of his report. Radio wanted to project suave sophistication.

    Again if I remember correctly, Orson Welles began the program with a disclaimer -- this was drama, not news. Not surprisingly, people didn't hear or remember the disclaimer. It sounded like news to them (it was supposed to sound that way).

    I do not blame the public, or impute stupidity to them. Horror shows get under my skin in 2019, and I'm a sophisticated person. I know what I am watching is Hollywood trickery. It still works.

    People also sometimes think real news is fake. There are people who didn't believe that the moon landing took place, or that one of the 9/11 towers (not WTC 1 or 2) wasn't destroyed by explosives the government had, for some reason, but in place, or that Ben Laden hadn't been elected. And, to tell the truth, it is possible -- given enough lead time -- for video experts to produce genuinely awful 100% fake video news. Buildings on fire, explosions, bodies flying through the air, huge cracks opening up in the streets -- the whole schemer. If passed off as news, most of us would believe it initially, at least. Until glaring contradictions started showing up -- like NPR, which broadcasts from the LA area, not mentioning a meteor wiping out part of Los Angeles.
  • Frotunes
    114
    When you say a lie again and again, you make it real. We like to argue constantly as atheists and liberals when we already knew there was no God and vaccination is important. Beating a dead horse, we are actively ignoring the alive ones.
    That is why I don't like reading Dawkins or Hitchens. They're beating a horse long dead while alive ones gallop past us.
    I think talking too much about fake news is only going to make things worse. Most fake news believers are so not because of ignorance but because they like it.
  • Frotunes
    114
    The republican party is a bigger threat than fake news. The increasing cost of your health insurance than some Facebook post. If you aren't careful of your news sources, then everything is a threat to you, and you need to live your life in constant worry and paranoia.
  • halo
    45
    Fake news has always been around- now it's just more of it... RMC
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