Brain Chatter: The Future of Fake News

December 15, 2017 Ophelie Zalcmanis-Lai

Alas, we’ve reached the end of our special Brain Chatter series on Fake News.   

So far, we’ve covered what it is, where it came from and how it gets around.

The last question to answer is what can be done about it. What are the implications moving forward and who bears the brunt of the responsibility?

As we explained in How Fake News Gets Around, there’s no hard and fast solution to stopping the circulation (and publication, for that matter) of fake news because of how traffic reaches it – a lot of it is achieved organically.

All together, this makes fighting it quite difficult. Not only are institutional changes needed (like the monitoring of paid ad content on social media platforms), but behavioural changes are also of great importance.

With that in mind, these are the implications we face going forward:   

  1. Journalists can only do so much.

    Tens of posts and series could dedicated to the state of journalism and how things like branded content or downsizing in the industry have changed the game.

    However, when it comes to fake news, it’s especially important that journalists go back to the basics and remember their ethics guidelines. We’ll tell you right now that major news organizations aren’t necessarily the ones publishing the most ridiculous of fake news.

    Mistakes in reporting have happened and continue for a variety of reasons. That said, journalists are also desperately trying to maintain their positions as the people who bring important information.

    Think of how much harder their job is when they have to prove their validity in the face of constant cuts to jobs and funding.

    If anything, one could argue that this is the time to support quality reporting in hopes of being able to cut through the noise and bury the nonsense.

  2. Advertisers and marketers are going to have to get a lot sharper.

    Whether taking a stand on various issues or jumping on something that’s trending, fake news is going to challenge content creators to double down on their messaging.

    This means fully sticking behind their beliefs and following up those beliefs with actions, while also being mindful of how their content is informed.

    In other words, they need more than solid grounding to back up what they’re going to create because people are going to be more skeptical now than ever about what brands are showing them.  

  3. Google, Facebook and others have to police the content that passes through their platforms much more than they are currently.  

    Whether or not these platforms are directly at fault (and from the reports, it looks like no, they’re just mostly caught in the wrong place at the wrong time so to speak), they are involved. 

    And they need to accept that. And then work even harder at putting safeguards in place to make sure fake news doesn’t keep getting through the algorithms.

    Of course, this is easier said than done and we are not the authority to tell them to do it.

    But the reality is that millions of people are active on these platforms every day and a lot of content goes through the pipelines to said people. Because of that, it’s in the best interest for these platforms (if even only for credibility sake) to take a more detailed look at what their audiences are being fed, while also providing consequences.

  4. Most importantly, consumers need to be responsible about the information they’re willing to read and share.

    You know when you get those spammy emails from your parents filled with a bunch of links to bogus articles? After which  you then proceed to scrutinize their poor judgement?

    Well, you are what you share. And it turns out that it’s not just those who are inexperienced with the internet who are sharing through fake news.

    It runs a lot deeper than that.

    So, people of the world: you have a responsibility in all of this too. And that responsibility is to educate yourself with the facts and be careful what you share.

    If something feels fishy, trust your gut. Consumers aren’t helpless bystanders, and they shouldn’t act like it or be treated like it.

Obviously Fake News is a topic that can be continued much farther than four parts. We’ve seen how it can influence politics. We’ve seen just how easily and accidentally people have consumed it.

But, the main idea of this series is to communicate one thing: fake news is much more of an issue than its given credit for.

It’s time for people to acknowledge it as something more than hoax articles on the internet.

“Child Born with Wings” is the least of our concerns when it comes to the future implications of fake news making it through the various channels and into the minds of consumers.                                                                                                                 

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