Go to the source

‘Fixing’ fake news

It’s weird to me that with all the online “hand-wringing” around how horrible fake news is and what we ought to all collectively do about it, I haven’t seen anybody mention the obvious antidote: track down primary sources, authoritative versions, compare secondary sources and publicly document your research.

I suspect people aren’t offering this as a fix because it’s not sexy. It’s not algorithmic enough. It doesn’t, in itself, make a “shareable” clickbait headline. It’s not something “regular people” supposedly have time to do. But it. is. the. answer.

What’s more, the further you go down this road of tracking primary sources, comparing versions, phrasings and distribution of factoids and references, the more you realize how much, not just current events, but all of history is a game of interpretation — a piecing together of details.

The truth is that we struggle to make sense of what happens to us. And even though we cling to the comfort of supposed certainties, there are many instances where we just don’t know, will never know. So we are left to find — or to make — our own truths. If your answer to that core existential uncertainty inherent in the human condition is to ask Facebook or some other company to “do it for you,” well then, you get what you pay for.