The Downside of an Increasingly Realtime Web is Less Truth
One downside of an increasingly realtime web, which is described from a technology perspective by Scott Gerber in How 5G will change the way we use the web, is it seems to me to be the ease and speed with which misinformation and lies can be easily spread. Two quotes come to mind:
"There's many a slip 'twixt the cup and the lip"
"A Lie Can Travel Halfway Around the World While the Truth Is Putting On Its Shoes"
What's the defense especially when authority figures themselves spread lies and half-truths?
Ordinarily my answer would be to go first to those I trust. That's why so many advertisers attempt to influence word-of-mouth. In the world of politics, though, the first statement out of the gate has the advantage. Even when a lie is corrected the harm has been done especially in situations where a decision or assessment has to be made based on the current state of one's knowledge or beliefs. I am always skeptical, for example, about anything I read on Twitter and try to think twice about resharing or any other action based on the information presented.
In the short term, the only solution I see is to make available more information about the information being shared, not less. Basic questions like "Who said that," "When was it said," and "What was the basis for making that statement" should be asked by everyone.
The lack of such "information lifecycle data" is one of the reasons that Twitter is increasingly problematic as a discussion forum and seems more suited to propaganda and misinformation, as I noted in This Twitter Cloud Lacks a Silver Lining.
I don't think the solution to "fake news" is censorship. I'd rather see more realtime insight into the provenance of sources as information makes its way through the lifecycle to my eyeballs. If that slows things down a bit, that may just be the price we have to pay for living in a real, not fake, world.
Copyright (c) 2016 by Dennis D. McDonald. Can I help you adapt the content and ideas you see here for your own organization? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.