Individuals bear much of the blame for fake news. The study found that false rumors travel the Internet much more rapidly and widely than facts. These untruths get their velocity and reach not from celebrity influencers but from ordinary citizens sharing among their networks.
Evidently, we humans have a strong preference for novelty and sensationalism over scrupulous reality.
.. “Falsehood diffused significantly farther, faster, deeper, and more broadly than the truth in all categories of information,” the MIT scientists concluded after examining more than 125,000 stories shared by more than 3 million Twitter users. The most viral lies, they found, involved “false political news.”
.. Politics is tribal. It is a way of organizing conflict.
.. We are inclined to credit anything we hear from our allies and to believe the worst of our foes. In politics we see information as potential ammunition; we evaluate it for its potency and lethality rather than its strict veracity.
.. the Internet smokes out our self-deceptions and shows us as we really are.
Gambling and porn flourish on the Internet. Reasoned civil discourse, not so much.
.. This is a profound blow to idealists of the marketplace of ideas. From Adam Smith to Friedrich Hayek to James Surowiecki, the author of “The Wisdom of Crowds,” wise thinkers have emphasized the positive economic effects of dispersed power. A great many people, free to pursue the wisdom of their experiences and the perspectives from their vantage points, will arrive — as if moved by an invisible hand — at better results than any single mind or central planning bureaucracy could achieve.
.. But it turns out that the crowd is wise only when it is asking the right questions. A crowd determined to get the best value on flat-screen televisions will soon discover the proper price; but a crowd swept up by tulips or cryptocurrency may find itself pricing euphoria instead of value.What we see from Twitter and other platforms clearly signals that too many people are asking the wrong questions.. our ability to spread our careless and malign thinking is brand-new. Of all the digital-age jargon, perhaps none is more apt than “going viral,” because the contagion of bad information is a matter of individuals passing germs from host to host with geometric speed. Only disciplined digital hygiene can halt the epidemic.
Are you bothered by fake news, systematic misinformation campaigns and Facebook “dark posts” — micro-targeted ads not visible to the public — aimed at African-Americans to discourage them from voting? You must be one of those people “upset about ideas” you disagree with.
Are you troubled when agents of a foreign power pose online as American Muslims and post incendiary content that right-wing commentators can cite as evidence that all American Muslims are sympathizers of terrorist groups like the Islamic State? Sounds like you can’t handle a healthy debate.
Does it bother you that Russian actors bought advertisements aimed at swing states to sow political discord during the 2016 presidential campaign, and that it took eight months after the election to uncover any of this? Well, the marketplace of ideas isn’t for everyone.
.. bias in the digital sphere is structurally different from that in mass media, and a lot more complicated than what programmers believe.
.. what matters most is not the political beliefs of the employees but the structures, algorithms and incentives they set up, as well as what oversight, if any, they employ to guard against deception, misinformation and illegitimate meddling.
.. by design, business model and algorithm, Facebook has made it easy for it to be weaponized to spread misinformation and fraudulent content.
.. this business model is also lucrative, especially during elections. Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, called the 2016 election “a big deal in terms of ad spend” for the company
.. Facebook responds to such pressure as much of the traditional media do: by caving and hiding behind flimsy “there are two sides to everything” arguments.
.. Even the conservative pundit and wild-eyed conspiracy theorist Glenn Beck, of all people, has expressed befuddlement at the charge that Facebook censored conservative content.
.. He has correctly pointed out that Facebook had been a boon for right-wing groups, especially of the alt-right and Breitbart variety