Examining the #fakenews impasse

tech_democracy_img.pngWhether or not we can call the current state of online fake news an impasse remains to be seen.

Although recent events—from allegations of Russian-linked Facebook accounts spending inordinate amounts of money to spread fake stories during the 2016 U.S. presidential election to the more recent senseless mass shootings in Las Vegas—continue to expose the pervasive effect of how fabricated information’s ubiquity can weigh over our collective psyche.

It’s a topic all too familiar, yet so difficult to wrap our heads around. And while it seems like a novel trend heavily discussed and theorized by many, as if seeking to squeeze any trace of accountability identifiable to whatever source(s) must assume responsibility, most of us know fake news is not all that new.

A recent post highlighting polling data suggests that experts are divided on how technology can effectively address the #fakenews problem. One set of respondents offers optimistic perspectives while another is leery of how we readily we tend to relegate  responsibility and control to powerful, private tech companies.

Sally Wentworth, vice president of global policy development at the Internet Society, notes that “..we are outsourcing this function to private entities that exist, ultimately, to make a profit and not necessarily for a social good. How much power are we turning over to them to govern our social discourse? Do we know where that might eventually lead?”

This philosophical rhetoric echoes similar sentiments we fleshed out in our #Trends chat in June surrounding the mesmerizing tech monopoly. For November’s segment, let’s continue our exploration in this area and don our critical thinking hats for the hour-long convo:

  • Q1 How does #fakenews personally affect you? What is your most pressing concern about this flagrant trend?
  • Q2 Is it feasible and sustainable to “outsource” the responsibility of fixing  #fakenews to tech’s social giants (FB, Twitter, GOOG etc)? How so?
  • Q3 What makes today’s #fakenews significantly more problematic than how media has traditionally been controlling messaging before the Internet?
  • Q4 Will regulating social media companies lead to effective solutions that stem #fakenews?

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