Fixing Misinformation is a Misguided and Insufficient Strategy

Breathless headlines for a very old story: The Times/The Guardian (via BusinessInsider)

1: Excessive focus on one part of the information system is a mistake

At Mozilla Festival, also held in London in October, I attended a highly enjoyable session where the organisers (Melissa Ryan and Sam Jeffers) led several groups in imagining and designing ‘fake news’ articles. What this session proved beyond doubt is how easy it is to create such stories out of thin air. Although no one there had previously tried to write something viral and false, we all came with compelling ideas that would probably have gained at least some traction.

2: We can’t fight the falsehood wildfire with a tiny water pistol of truth

I have heard this point made occasionally at large dis- and misinformation conferences on both sides of the Atlantic (including MisinfoCon London and the Digital Disinformation Forum held at Stanford back in June). But it doesn’t appear to have sunk in yet.

3: There is no consensus on regulation of the tech giants

While EU regulators have been on the case for a while, a happy recent development is that US legislators have finally begun to grapple with the monopolistic power of the social media platforms that have accelerated the spread of false information. Sadly, their focus is currently taken up mostly with the influence of foreign entities (especially Russia) on elections, rather than the general degradation of information quality that these platforms and their super-dominant technologies are creating.

So what do possible solutions look like?

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Tom King

Tom King

Improve systems where possible; replace them where necessary. Democracy, media, tech. Human jukebox.