Reality is far better than you believe

So…that didn’t happen.
  • Mainstream fact checking in the media: Fact checking currently exists in a niche where it is sought out by those who have an a priori interest in “the facts”. One way forward is to include fact-checkers live in current affairs debating shows and news programmes. This can also help make fact-checking entertaining and help nip politicians’ lies in the bud.
  • Understand and penetrate echo chambers: Social media and search algorithms have led to audiences self-selecting the “facts” they want to hear. Instead, echo chambers need to be analysed and understood and the key influencers identified. Once the underlying world-views have been understood, fact-checkers can engage more meaningfully with the audience.
  • Encourage regulation: At the regulatory level a standards authority for political campaigns could help ensure politicians cannot lie with impunity, along the lines of what I discussed earlier.
  • All major publications (selected using MediaCloud) should have their back catalogues fact checked (performed by trusted independent organisations such as Full Fact and Politifact) for the past 2–5 years, starting with their most viewed content.
  • All bogus claims are noted, and the aggregated mark is incorporated as a ‘truthfulness factor’score within the algorithms of Google, Facebook and Twitter.
  • Google’s search algorithms famously assesses the trustworthiness of a source by the volume and quality of its incoming links, favouring the large publishers. They also do some clever things to assess “quality”, a reaction to the deluge of poorly written content in the past. Incorporating this penalty score would be a huge boost towards dividing fact from fiction. Large publishers would still be favoured, but their display order (and subsequent advertising revenue) would be reliant upon their truthfulness.
  • Facebook and Twitter’s algorithms ultimately determine the virality of a piece of content. Content from sites with a high penalty score would be shown on fewer feeds, reducing their virality.
  • This truthfulness factor would be a rolling score, affected by a publication’s future content.
Still not a necessity

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Nick Wasmuth

Nick Wasmuth

Understanding how it is. Seeing what it could be. Planning how to get there.

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