The spread of misinformation will continue until platforms and news organizations adopt norms and standards for accountability and trust.
Last year, American trust in media declined. According to a Pew Research Center poll, roughly 30% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents said that journalists have “very low” ethical standards.
A healthy dose of skepticism makes for a strong electorate. But deepfakes, intentionally misleading stories, and salacious content posted by political operatives, hackers, and foreign governments have led to increased calls for new methods to rebuild our trust in the media.
In August 2019, Twitter finally published a blog post exposing a series of Chinese Twitter bots that were intentionally spreading misinformation on the platform. Along with this transparency about the presence of these bots, Twitter removed them and also promised not to accept sponsored posts from known rogue actors (state or otherwise).
There is no clear financial incentive for platforms or news organizations to use a standardized system to prove a piece of content’s authenticity. Lawmakers have hesitated to propose legislation that would curb speech, however it’s an election year and we’re likely to be flooded with malicious content.
As platforms come under increased scrutiny this year for issues related to antitrust, we expect to see demands for transparency and traceability. Just as supply chains are inspected to ensure they’re secure, in the future we could see new blockchain-powered supply chains for information.
Fake or misleading news itself is a problem. But it’s also making people less likely to seek out quality information.
Platforms and news organizations everywhere.
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