Daniel Halliday
Nov 18 · Last update 18 days ago.
What provisions can be taken to minimise the impact of fake news?
Fake news and misinformation have become a mainstay of modern politics and current affairs, mainly through an increased use of social media and increasing political polarisation. How can fake news be combatted to stop the spread of false information?
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Change in functionality
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Provisions need to be government funded
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Critical thinking
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Better fact checking algorithms built in to social media
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Change in functionality

The latest success in the fight against fake news seems to involve changing the functionality of the services used to spread fake news. Specifically a limit imposed by instant message service Whatsapp on the number of times users can forward a message, seems to be a simple but effective method to stop the spread of fake stories on their service. This has been especially effective in India, a country with the largest number of forwarded Whatsapp messages and home to a string of lynchings in recent years caused by fake child abduction stories spread through Whatsapp.

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Provisions need to be government funded

The large scale of measures that are needed to protect democracy from the interference of fake news as a tool to sow artificial discord can only be properly accomplished by government bodies. The Czech government have already taken such measures in establishing the Centre Against Terrorism and Hybrid Threats, to monitor disinformation campaigns and disseminate information to the general population to counter the effects of fake news. This huge task is purely a communication based unit avoiding censorship and coercion but focusing on fighting fake news with facts, to clear up the national dialogue without harming freedom of speech. Something that could only be established in such a way by a countries government.

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Critical thinking

Educator and Philosopher Roger Scruton argues that fake news and “post-truth politics” as a new trend is a misleading notion, as politicians and journalists have always lied. He claims that the reason people complain about a breakdown of fact and fiction is due to their distaste for events such as Brexit and the want to attribute some grander reason to it. As the internet is in its infancy it may just be a time when people are learning the important lesson of research and questioning what you read, therefore education in critical thinking may be the only way to finally do anything about the long standing issue of fake news.

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Better fact checking algorithms built in to social media

Facebook first developed a tool to allow users to report stories that were misleading in the lead up to the 2017 French elections. This tool was then rolled out in the US, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, and the UK using AI algorithms and a flagging system to try and minimise the impact of fake news, by placing it lower in their user's post feed. Also in the push for debunking fake news in Germany, news organisations such as Correctiv with their website Echtjetzt are trying to debunk online falsities, and have secured a €100,000 grant from the George Soros Open Society Foundation in doing so.

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