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office. Some have a weighbridge for goods
 set into the platform, made in England of
 course. The original hand-operated points
 and signals are still lovingly cared for. Most
 stations are well maintained, the platforms
 decorated with brilliantly coloured geraniums
 and petunias, the slatted fences painted
 annually. The stationmaster is also in charge
 of the points and level crossings so, after
 setting the necessary levers, he rapidly dons
 his uniform to await the arrival of the train.
 He is equipped with a red cap and carries a
 red flag and a whistle with which he signals   ‘Fake News’ was not a term many   Nation state-sponsored   misleading photos, adverts on
 the train driver to proceed. It’s all very   people used two years ago, but it   misinformation:  The goal here isn’t   Facebook paid for by Russian
 nostalgic.  is now seen as one of the greatest   revenue, but influence. Outlets in   intelligence outfits, videos on
 Electronic signalling has also replaced the   threats to democracy, free debate   Russia or elsewhere might produce   YouTube claiming terrorist incidents
 manual technique of warning of oncoming   and the Western order. And yet,   content to swing public opinion,   are hoaxes. These are not links
 trains. The method was simple and foolproof.   nobody can agree on what it is,   sow division or give the illusion of   outside of social media but are part
 As a train left each station, the driver was   the extent of the problem, and   support for a particular candidate or   of the social networks themselves.
 given a hoop. He handed this to the next   what to do about it.  idea, either domestically or abroad.
 stationmaster who could then release any   Fabricated stories can often be   Finally: the deliberate dissemination
 train standing in the spur line at his station,   Fake news is not new. Octavian   mixed with true or sensationalised   of false information by politicians for
 and the hoop would travel back to its home   famously used disinformation to   ones. Over thirty nations currently   political means. Once the false data
 station with that driver.  help his campaign against Marc   employ opinion shapers according   hits the media, it becomes ‘fact’.
                                         to the 2017 Freedom on the Net
 Beyer, Peacock and Co. of Manchester built   Anthony. By the 20th century, fake   report.
 the first steam locomotives to run on the line.   news was called propaganda, and   Is there an answer? At the moment,
 Steam gave way to diesel in the 1970s, a   the new forms of mass          no, despite reassurances from
 disappointment to steam buffs but a   communication helped   Highly-partisan news sites: These   Facebook, Google and the press
 significant increase in efficiency. When the   propaganda’s persuasive power to   can conflate fact and opinion, are   association. Everybody has to judge
 rails were wet the old engines had trouble   grow, particularly during wartime   nakedly supportive of one political   for themselves whether what they
 climbing some of the steep inclines and had   and by fascist regimes. However,   viewpoint or party, and often   read is fact or fiction. The general
 to be preceded by a man throwing sand on   before the Internet, it was   position themselves as alternatives   mistrust of news could lead many
 the track, reducing the speed to a walking   expensive to distribute information   to the mainstream media.  people to trust their own prejudices
 pace. The modern diesel locomotives spray   and to build up trust took years.   which could be very dangerous;
 sand automatically when they detect a lack   Propaganda, largely sponsored by   Social media itself: Swarms of   there are some real loopy loos out
 of adhesion.  Governments, tended to become   Twitter bots posting doctored or   there.
        less effective as populations
 The Route  became used to mass
 Secure in the knowledge that progress will   communication; they could more
        easily see through it.
 be in a forward direction, passengers can sit
 back and enjoy the spectacular scenery as
 the line follows the course of the Rio   The 21st century ushered in the
 Guadiaro. You will notice that the towns and   Internet and Social Media, and
 villages served by the stations are some way   fertile fields for the ‘opinion
 from the line and often perched high above   shapers’ who promote
 on their defensive ridges and buttresses.   propaganda online. Opinion
 Estacion Gaucin, or Colmenar for instance, is   shapers come in different shapes
 12 kilometres from Gaucin itself and Estacion   and sizes.
 Cortes serving Cortes de la Frontera is 5
 kilometres away. After Estacion Jimena the   Commercially-driven sensational
 line takes you through canyons and narrow   content: Stories that are not
 valleys as it starts the climb up to Ronda,   ideologically driven, but very often
 crossing and re-crossing the river. Just   have absolutely no grounding in
 before Ronda the line performs a hairpin   fact. Their key goal is to drive web
 bend to manage the last hill. It is a fantastic   traffic and, as a result, generate
 example of the best of 19th century, British,   advertising income.

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