In the days prior to WW1, newspapers fought to sell more copies by trying to one up each other with increasingly outrageous claims. Many of the headlines and articles in the biggest newspapers in the world were either misleading or outright false. They took small incidents and blew them up far larger than they needed to be. The more outrageous a headline or article, the more it sold. Eventually, the abuse of yellow journalism led to the building of popular rage that boiled over and was a major societal driving cause of WW1.
After the world wars, newspapers became much more responsible and did not try to one up each other with outrage nearly as much as they did in the late 1800s and early 1900s. People still had an appetite for it, but they only bought silly stuff like the National Enquirer that had crazy stories about aliens and celebrities not many truly believed.
Bloggers and Facebook and Twitter users have rediscovered the incredibly power over people minds exerted by outrageous (even if untrue) news. Yellow journalism has made a full and powerful comeback. Huge amounts of near lies and outright lies are peddled to get more viewers. Outrage is pushed and pushed.
The outrageousness is getting more ad revenue for blogs and social media… but at a deep cost. Huge populations in each country worldwide are having rising levels of anger. The rage is often over blatantly untrue or exaggerated news items, but the rage is very real and very true. The rage is leading to the election of throwback populists the likes we haven’t seen since prior to the last two world wars.
The “most powerful country in the world”, America, now has a populist president who can’t handle comedians making jokes at his expense and lashes out every time. Germany is seeing a far right party rise quickly to power. The UK is leaving the Eurozone.
I think continued yellow journalism is going to lead to extreme rage in large enough populations to spark WW3.