…for your information, that is. 😉
Because somehow in the course of a week we managed to go from needing a more diligent news media to trust no one as if The X-Files is suddenly going to come back into style! And don’t get me wrong, it’s certainly good for people to be skeptical and ask questions about the information that they’re consuming, particularly online, but I’m not so sure it’s to anybody’s benefit when it gets to the extreme of nobody trusting anything that they read because the narratives in their own heads are fueled by anecdotal incidents that get turned into blanket assessments.
For example, “None of this violence by Trump supporters against Muslims is actually happening…” because one case was investigated and proven to be false.
Or even just yesterday – Mike Pence gets booed going to see the play Hamilton … but did the cast boo him or did the audience boo him??? I’ve read accounts both ways, however Donald Trump has already tweeted that the cast owes him an apology and plenty have picked that version of the truth up to run with, but it’s a pretty big difference whether it was the cast on stage or simply people in the audience because I’ve got to think that the latter is going to happen a lot!
This whole concept of fake news being shared virally around social media is kind of crazy because even taking it a step beyond people reading into The Onion thinking that it’s actual news, I feel like a lot of the problem especially on Facebook is that people don’t even read articles anymore – instead they just react to and share headlines and memes that get them riled up. Hell, I’ve even witnessed this with my own family reacting to things that I’ve written where they go off on a rant without taking into any consideration the points that I actually wrote about!
It seems a little ironic to find ourselves in the middle of the Information Age yet people are so inundated with data that they either don’t know what to believe or just believe the thing that most closely aligns with what they already want to believe.
Even some of the bigger professional news sources are getting scrutinized right now, which in a way is good because they need to be held accountable if we’re going to rely on them holding other people accountable. But it can admittedly be hit and miss when the same news organizations can be on the ball one minute and literally reporting on tweets the next … which as far as I’m concerned is almost as unforgivable as reputable publications having Taboola ads beneath their otherwise reputable content!
Seriously, you shouldn’t be writing legitimate news stories from a 140-character tweet any more than you should be selling your journalists out with ads pointing to The Photos That Ronda Rousey DOESN’T Want You to See underneath their investigative work!!!
I thought it was interesting to see Mark Zuckerberg talking about how they can address the issue on Facebook because let’s be honest, a growing number of people’s information gathering both begins and ends with their Facebook News Feed. And it’s not as easy of a problem to solve as one would think on the surface because any type of filtering or adjustments to their news feed algorithm is by nature going to insert (more) editorial insight and political bias – they’ve experienced that already with their Trending Topics and being accused of suppressing conservative links…
I like some of the things that Google has done over the years as link harvesters and content farms chase link juice by looking at things like page quality in comparison to similar sites, load speed, and even evaluating design to encourage sites built for people as opposed to search engine spiders. But reliability of the content itself is another level tougher still, particularly because one thing you can’t rely on is social performance because we’re seeing people so actively liking and sharing absolute garbage! 🙁
It’s a problem that’s going to take multiple approaches to solve – it can’t be just the folks like Facebook and Google because, well, there’s only so much they can do, but I do think that it’s their responsibility to do as much as they can because having the largest user bases sharing around irrelevant and incorrect ideas isn’t really in anybody’s best interests. Yet just like Google has actually faced lawsuits about changing its algorithms to favor some sites over others, social networks will see the same thing, and really, if you’re Facebook you can’t really say that Occupy Democrats is ok but The Comical Conservative‘s links are crap … not only is the issue on both sides of the table, but unlike Google’s approach, they’ve got more support of their fans because it’s not like click farms are known for their loyal followers.
I’d like to say that a big part of this is somehow making more people aware of the fake that these links that they’re liking and sharing aren’t true, but whew – would that be a big nut to crack. 😛