(Two-minute read) 

It should come as no surprise that with the COVID 19 pandemic the internet has spawned a resurgence of fake news.

The term “fake news” has taken on its own life, referring not only to untrue reports but being increasingly used to dismiss reports that the user does not wish to agree with.

People prefer information that confirms their preexisting attitudes, view information consistent with their preexisting beliefs as more persuasive than dissonant information (confirmation bias), and are inclined to accept information that pleases them.

The problem is balancing community standards with free speech.

When it comes to Facebook and Twitter

Both are protected from the consequences of its users’ speech by a provision of the 1996 act that defines social media platforms as a “safe harbor” for speech. Ultimately, Facebook and Twitter must answer to its users.

Therefore Facebook and Twitter are under no obligation to write or enforce any censorship policies.  

We don’t yet know it can be done at all.

There are an estimated 2.2 billion people worldwide using Facebook and over 200 million twits a day, so it is a monumental task. 

So is there any solution? 

Transparency is a step in the right direction and it has to be said that there are internal and external ongoing efforts to banning genuine toxic content and allowing people to vent frustrations in general but once you are in the business of private censorship, it’s hard to draw those distinctions. 

Because censorship can be awfully vague and subject to misinterpretation if left to policies that are always fluid.

Any asserted claim made on Twitter or Facebook as news must be taken with a pinch of salt.

Why?

Because false news stories are 70 percent more likely to be retweeted than true stories.

Why retweet a post before you know whether it’s actually true?

They have more staying power.

Here is a solution.  

Facebook and Twitter are digital written formates, not a conversation and as such, they have a duty to objectively separate truth from lies or mistakes.

Of course, it’s not possible to expect that every post or twitter should be subject to scrutiny but any that go Viral on any platform should be subject to scrutiny to ensure that they are not spreading dangerous, lies, or completely fabricated.

This scrutiny can be made a legal requirement subject to the same laws governing the legitimate of newspapers, ensuring ethics that are promoting objectivity and credibility.  

Why? 

Because the spreaders of fake news are using increasingly sophisticated methods.

HERE ARE A FEW SITES
Devoted to fact-checking: factcheck.org, hoax-slayer.com, politifact.com, snopes.org, truthorfiction.com, and urbanlegends.about.com.”

All human comments appreciated. All like clicks and abuse chucked in the bin.