Fact-checking websites are not the answer

What are the primary roles of the major media outlets these days? Those media that feel obligated to report on stories in far away lands, the kind of stories that stop a reader in their tracks and have them whisper to themselves “what the heck?” resulting in them having only one choice, to share it on social media.

This seems to be the main role of the media these days, i’m becoming increasingly certain that media execs all across the world have only one objective these days when green-lighting new stories; steal stories shared by people online and (wittingly or not) give them a veneer of truth by re-publishing them so other (even more lazy) journalists pick them up.

A most recent rather harmless example is the story of the couple that where quarantined on a cruise ship due to the coronavirus. They apparently had boxes of wine flown to them onboard via a drone. A fun story, that was both shared online and published over and over again by some of the worlds major news sources that many people(apparently) rely on for accurate reporting.

Some publications even choosing to leave the story up to this day 28th February 2020, including Yahoo news:

 

And the Mail online:

 

The New York Post also reported the story, but later removed it and replaced it with the audacious message “did you get lost?” no redaction, no apology.

 

Gizmodo Australia did a follow up story with a small correction note:

 

This is just one example of how the media is more concerned with expediency, share-ability and social media metrics, and increasingly much less with accuracy, and due diligence in their reporting.

The bigger problem

While this was a small mostly harmless story, In mid 2019 a guy called Mekki Leeper with just a thousand dollars and some time on his hands managed to create an entire fake business that fooled a bunch of major news outlets into reporting on the new alternative medicine which was essentially a used tissue. This in turn led to the business selling out of the imaginary product completely. Though entertaining i’m sure you would agree that’s not as harmless a story as having wine delivered by drone.

 

 

The only solution

You’re likely thinking ok Rich so what? We all know the media is broken, no one believes anything any more, everything is just advertising and/or pranks.

I would say that is not true, you just have to dig deeper, and give newer outlets the benefit of the doubt, there has never been more reporting by more outlets and individuals in the history of mankind, this is where the real challenge lies; with your own competence to analyse information. Even websites like factcheck and others are not going to be able to fix the issue for you as they are underfunded and haven’t the resources to keep up.

So this currently leaves us with the places in which the sharing happens; the major social media platforms and search engines of which we spend the majority of our time absorbing information these days. Are we going to intrust these platforms with such responsibilities?

Whats in it for them? Why are they the right persons to arbitrate truth for all?

Behind those information gathering machines are real people, who in collaboration with our current leaders are working right now to try to figure out the solution to these problems of which they are inextricably a part of. Disinformation has always been a part of mainstream media culture, the difference today is the rate and method in which it is distributed. It disseminates so fast it is impossible to tame it, it can be created by anyone anywhere so it is very difficult to attribute it to anyone. Combined with the business models laid out by these online media giants we have a perfect recipe for misinformation bing a prominent part of our day to day understandings of the world around us, no matter where you live in the world.

The real solution is within you, within your capability to adequately analyse information. As the sources of information are no longer verifiable you need to learn to adapt yourself, because if you think the dissemination of truth and facts about our world can be fixed by someone somewhere else behind closed doors you may well be disappointed at the results.

Here’s a guide to get you started:

Hit me up on our new leaders website: Rich

 

 

 

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