Month: December 2016

Truth is under attack. We need to fight back

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Why ruin a nice story with inconvenient truth? In the aftermath of BREXIT and USA elections, it has become more than obvious that one of the biggest dangers our liberal democracy faces, is the avalanche of “post-truths”, misinformation and straight-out lies.aaeaaqaaaaaaaajiaaaajgq5m2q2y2q5lty2nwytnddkoc04nzliltu2nmzkowvjmwq2mw

Nobody cares for the facts or for any details for that matter. Much too often we are surrounded by people ready to believe anything convenient for them in Facebook or Twitter and at the same time disregard any hard data and evidence, provided by the most distinguished media outlets or scientists.

The discussion has just started, and we need to act before it is too late. Social Media are a part of our life and quitting or abandoning them is not the answer in my humble opinion. From what I’ve read and realised so far, we need to focus on 3 objectives:

  1. Stop lies and block trolls which is apparently a very lucrative business (see #3 below).
  2. Create stricter verification systems where anonymity could not be used to harass or intimidate people (see #5)
  3. Educate users, especially young, for whom Social Media is often the only source of information.

But, please. Do not stay in this article. Dig deeper, investigate, argue. I’ve put together an inconclusive list to help you started:

  1. You can start with BuzzFeed’s Analysis that Shows How Fake Election News Stories Outperformed Real News On Facebook. It’s short, informative and easy to read.
  2. Continue with Foreign Policy’s (Nov 16) article: “Facebooking Ourselves to Death“. Ilya Lozovsky is crystal clear: “Americans are awash in a sea of disinformation. We’ve got to fight back.”
  3. Learn how “Trolls” operate in these pieces by Washington Post (Nov 16) and this slightly older piece by Business Insider (Jul 16).
  4. Read “Why Facebook and Google are struggling to purge fake news” (Washington Post, Nov 16) and if they actually can solve the problem. (Can Facebook — and the Republic — Solve the Fake News Problem?, Foreign Policy, Nov 16)
  5. See what Reuters has in mind (Reuters built an algorithm to flag and verify breaking news on Twitter. A tool that filters out the fake, VERGE, Dec 16) and Jason’s Calacanis post (a well known Angel Investor) on what Twitter should do.
  6. The same are more or less repeated in this recent TechCrunch article: UPDATED: Machine learning can fix Twitter, Facebook, and maybe even America.

Finally, I highly recommend this very interesting article on MEDIUM: ” How We Broke Democracy, Our technology has changed this election, and is now undermining our ability to empathize with each other“. If it is one piece you select to read this should be it.

Now, nobody said that this is easy and misinformation is not our only problem. Inequality exists and we can not ignore it. Stephen Hawking believes “This is the most dangerous time for our planet” and at least one, one-percenter agrees (Watch Nick Hanauer at TED).

But, the problems of our society will not be solved by populism, lies and empty promises. We need truth, empathy, hope and realism.