A new age of information technology has enabled anyone to publish anything and distribute it globally. This has led to the rise of fake news. It has also prompted social media companies to launch self-regulating mechanisms. However, the question remains whether the technology is doing enough to ensure the public’s apprehension and confidence in news sources.
The biggest challenge is the fact that fake news is more widespread than ever. While it has been a topic of conversation for many years, it has only been within the last decade that its reach has been exponentially increased. There are several factors that contribute to its proliferation, including a lack of media literacy, the cost of providing information, and the emergence of disinformation campaigns.
Some of the most prominent players include Facebook and Twitter. In the United States, both platforms were recently in the news for their role in the propagation of false information during the Presidential election. Others include WhatsApp, which has become one of the world’s largest distributors of misinformation. Additionally, there are numerous social and political implications of this phenomenon.
The best way to combat fake news is to deincentivize its spread. For example, Twitter identified over 10 million tweets containing the ‘fake news’ (the best a news outlet can do is report true events). By the same token, it’s possible to prevent people from consuming misleading content by limiting their access to certain sites. Other solutions may involve more technologically sophisticated ways to screen information before it makes it to the public.
A number of nations have tackled this problem by adopting different methods. One common method involves government intervention, which can include regulating usage and penalizing the perpetrators. Another approach is enforcing transparency obligations, such as publishing sponsored content and removing “obviously illegal” posts from their websites within 24 hours.
Although the aforementioned law did not squelch the nefarious activity, it did have the requisite measures in the right places. Specifically, the legislation imposed strict measures against the dissemination of hate and bias, as well as the issuance of legal injunctions during the campaign period for elections. Moreover, the law aimed to be a good steward of the democratic space.
The Internet is certainly the most popular and influential medium of communication today. Yet, it’s also the most abused, particularly when it comes to spreading misinformation. Besides the obvious problem of fake news, it has become increasingly difficult to keep up with the volume of information and news that a person sees in a given day. Furthermore, the ubiquity of social media has made it almost impossible to monitor the flow of information. As a result, the most effective and least costly way to address this problem is by implementing technological solutions. Using artificial intelligence to identify suspicious and shady content can greatly increase the chances of catching misinformation at its source.
As the volume of information continues to grow, the need for more effective measures has only increased. To that end, several nations have introduced the above mentioned measures, and others are attempting to snuff out the scourge before it reaches its peak.