What You Need to Know About Fake News - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

“The fact that most people get their information from just a few platforms and the increasing sophistication of algorithms drawing upon rich pools of personal data means that political campaigns are now building individual adverts targeted directly at users. And there are suggestions that some political adverts — in the US and around the world — are being used in unethical ways — to point voters to fake news sites, for instance, or to keep others away from the polls.”

The man who invented the Internet, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, is pretty concerned about the rise of “fake news” and its impact on the entire world.

But there’s something even more insidious happening.

Policymakers, appointed officials, and even our own president are now saying any news they don’t like is fake.

And people are buying it.

It’s tough to read the Twitter feeds of, say, Kellyanne Conway or Sean Spicer, without seeing a hashtag about fake news or accusing the press of scamming their audiences in one way or another.

The problem is that most news isn’t fake news. Most news is just fine, and most sources are trustworthy.

The term “fake news” refers to a very small portion of the media (you can find a comprehensive list of fake, misleading, and satirical “news sources” here; this list is stored in Google Docs by Harvard University).

According to Berners-Lee, “Today, most people find news and information on the web through just a handful of social media sites and search engines. These sites make more money when we click on the links they show us. And, they choose what to show us based on algorithms which learn from our personal data that they are constantly harvesting. The net result is that these sites show us content they think we’ll click on – meaning that misinformation, or ‘fake news’, which is surprising, shocking, or designed to appeal to our biases can spread like wildfire.”

What Do You Think?

What can we do to address the “fake news” problem? I’d love to hear your thoughts on it, so share them on my Facebook page or on Twitter.

Carlos Gamino