The Bull's Eye

Tedy: Informing over destroying

Jumping at the first possible solution to a problem never ends well, be it a math test, a dispute with your friend or even pressing, multifaceted issues that affect billions of people on a daily basis. As it turns out, social media’s approach to solving fake news falls under that third category.

It is no mystery why fake news articles are bad. They have inspired false beliefs, unjustified mistrust and even acts of violence. People are being raised to believe in a multitude of lies, from photoshopped models being the norm to falsified political scandals. It is easier than ever to doctor a photo, edit a video, or publish a “news” article that while excessive, is not absurd to the point of unbelievability. Determining what is real and what is fake is not as simple when fake content is created and distributed onto the internet faster than legitimate content is.

However, spending time, money and man-power on getting rid of fake news is close to useless. Falsified articles will always make their way onto social media feeds, no matter what complex algorithms are designed to check for them.

Platforms such as YouTube and Twitter have spent massive amounts of resources trying to delete fake news accounts, but solutions like these are temporary and prone to mistakes.

Many users are often caught in the crossfire and lose their accounts after being falsely flagged by newly implemented algorithms and policies. The effort put toward this brute-force solution should instead be placed into awareness that the internet is not a trustworthy place.

Simply trying to block fake information out as much as possible is ineffective and breeds a false sense of trust within the billions of people who use the internet. Instead of striving for impossible goals like ridding the internet of all fake news, media platforms should be making major efforts to educate the public on the commonality of fabricated or misleading online information.

The only realistic way to combat the effectiveness of fake news is to generate an air of skepticality around the internet. Those who have been exposed to the internet their whole lives may already be well aware of the dangers that come with it, but many groups, especially the elderly or young children, are susceptible to believing everything they see online.

Everyone can do their part to spread awareness, but social media services should continually remind users to remain skeptical of all content, not just those caught by the limited and often erroneous algorithms developed to combat false stories.

While Facebook has come under fire and has conducted limited campaigns to raise awareness of fake news, the issue seems to have died down quickly and there are now very little attempts at generating skepticism.

Attacking fake news head-on is a temporary and ineffective means of dealing with such a major problem. We need to use deeper-reaching and more permanent solutions to counter the negative effects of this widespread phenomenon.

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