Everything online is #FAKE

Well, maybe not EVERYTHING but, it sure does appear like we have a problem with …

#FakeNews

Is it just me, or are you a bit worried about how prominent of a role the reported Fake News played in the most recent American presidential election? These days, most people get their news (world and local) from their preferred social media platform. It isn’t that posting fake articles for more clicks was a new strategy for (shady) businesses or political parties, it’s how damn prominent the actual problem is and that its finally being exposed. Unfortunately, we are now seeing what the real world consequences are for letting this problem fester online (i.e. a billionaire business man with tonnes of conflict of interest implications being elected the next president of the most powerful country in the world).

Social media companies are not just tech companies. They are major media companies. It is important for the big players like Facebook and Google to acknowledge this and work diligently to fix the fake news problem, as best they can. They need to find a balance between advertising profits and informing the masses of what is real. I understand the latter is subjective but there must be a way to filter these fake news articles from showing up so often, if at all.

#FakePeople

One of the problems with social media is that you can say just about anything you want, with no real-world consequences. It can be done through a fake online persona. This is tied closely to #FakeNews but people creating fake personas online feels a bit more real or personal.

It is one thing to read a headline of a blatantly fake news article and laugh it off but, it is another thing to have internet trolls with fake accounts spreading false (negative) news about you personally, or about your company.

#Solution

I am certainly not in a position to provide a solution to these problems but, if something doesn’t change soon, people will start to look to other places for credible news sources. This could force big platforms like Facebook to take action quicker on their advertising policies than they would like. It would be very sad if we let this get to a point where it becomes difficult to discern what is real and what is fake. Perhaps the eventual solution will be a whole new breed of social media that hasn’t even been invented yet.

Or maybe we just need to accept the fact that we are now, really living in The Age of Post Truth Politics that the New York Times spoke about in August, 2016.

#LetUsPray

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3 thoughts on “Everything online is #FAKE

  1. Hi Jeff – I agree with these sentiments completely. President Obama referred to the “news as entertainment/entertainment as news” issue just after his successor was elected (I prefer to use the word trump only in card games).

    I am also concerned that Canadian Conservative Party leadership candidates are looking to drastically re-organize (read: reduce, cut funding) the CBC.

    All media have their biases, but the replacements put up by social media – Facebook, Twitter – have shown themselves difficult to govern. We need media we can trust to form a coherent world view and carry out our democratic responsibilities.

  2. Thoughtful post, I appreciate your point that social media companies are also media companies in the news business, I need to be more conscious of that going forward.

  3. I think your right in saying that you need to be cautious of what you read online. There are constantly false stories floating around. However, as much as it is about Google and FaceBook, it’s also about educating people. I personally read most of my news on Twitter – however, I do so by following CNN and other news sources. I will also often follow a #hashtag if there is something big going on and see what people are saying/photos posted of it. I think it’s a great source of news and one that I can do on my own time (versus making sure the TV is on at 6pm for the news every night).

    Due to the fact that social media is constantly developing and changing, I think it’s difficult to say that the sites that host us are responsible for the information that is shared. However, I do think there could be a way for them to educate users about the misconceptions that exist online. To cap specific stories from leaking out seems unrealistic for a number of reasons. For starters, social media is a place to voice your own personal opinions, if websites began taking this away, it starts taking away the point of it as well. It also seems unrealistic to find a technology that could filter such a thing – who is to say whether something is real or fake? (though, technology does continue to surprise us all). I also doubt that these companies worry about the false stories being circulated – they are after all a business. They make their money by people using their platforms, whether or not people believe what’s being put out there isn’t on them.

    I agree that I have no idea what a solution would be and certainly am not in a place to offer suggestions. I do however feel that educating people is going to be an important step. A blog like this, is a great first step to making people aware that it is a problem – that there are false stories (and probably always will be), and that being cautious with what your reading/believing is an important part of being online.

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