Why There is a Crisis of Fake News

Call it the law of unintended consequences.

The internet is a disruptive technology comparable to the Gutenberg press. Initially it was seen as a global encyclopedia, making all human knowledge available to everyone.

Then social media arose, and I saw this as revolutionary for two reasons:

  • It allows people around the world to see each other and recognize their common humanity rather than being portrayed as faceless enemies to be feared.
  • Radio, TV and the press are one-way media that promote the interests of the rich and powerful. Peer-to-peer communication by passes these gatekeepers and allows other ideas to compete.

What I missed in this optimistic analysis was that the gatekeepers also performed the valuable task of checking facts and assembling a coherent, credible story, albeit with the possibility of bias.

With great power comes great responsibility.

The power we have is that peer-to-peer networks facilitate the dissemination of news that does not fit the ruling narrative.

The corresponding responsibility is that we must check the facts and assess the credibility.

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