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by Trace Cohen

We won’t solve fake news right now but that’s not the problem ---

The most common thing I’m seeing in all my feeds right now (because it’s bias and all I want to see obviously) is this issue with “fake news” on Facebook. Everyone is blaming Mark Zuckerberg for the problem that 99% of news is basically real but that pesky 1% lost us the election (yes I voted for #her) and needs to be solved ASAP. Well it’s not that easy.

I have been on the public relations side helping generate news, the media side covering the news and now on the investing side seeing that it’s now all about views and ad dollars. We’ve complained about click-bait for years, which Facebook fixed, but how do we define what news is real or fake?

1. 99% of “news” never gets covered

Nowadays most of the news that you read is what the media outlets think you want to hear, not what you need you hear (I’m Ron Burgandy!?). It will get you to click on their links, stay on their site and hopefully share it. While this is obviously a pessimistic view of media, it’s what we’ve created by not paying for it and forcing outlets to relying solely on ad dollars.

2. Most people only read the headlines, bold, bulleted or under-lined text

If you’re actually reading this then I’m wrong but like most people I’m guilty of it too. Our attention spans are short so we look for things that catch our eye like CAPS, bold and italicized. 

3. We then share the news, whether it’s real or fake

The biggest problem is that if you did read it, would you even know if it’s fake? Probably not and if you want it to be real/true why would you think otherwise? Especially leading up to an election when you want to believe that certain things are what they say they are.

Here is the latest study by BuzzfeedNews. 

4. Stopping the creation, publishing and proliferation of fake news

Like the current ad-blocking war going on right now in the ad world, people will always find a way around it when there is money involved. I have read a few different suggestions by some of the top media experts and journalists (I trust!), which are below.

Jeff Jarvis has a great list of suggestions that in theory would solve the problem, but would take a while and might hurt some businesses… like billions of dollars at stake. So which takes priority? Though I’m very curious to see what John Borthwick at Betaworks and Jeff plan to invest in to help resolve this problem, as that is something I would be interested in.

You can check out their Design Solutions for Fake News which looks very detailed but honestly TL;DR :) ("Too long; didn't read") 

While I’m a huge fan of Matt Ingram, I have to disagree with his latest article to fix the problem Facebook Doesn’t Need One Editor, It Needs 1,000 of Them. TL:DR follow wikipedia and allow everyone to edit or report news. But to me, wikipedia is a static site for facts and information while news and media write stories to drive views and can create it pretty much instantaneously to keep bombarding our feeds. They iterate quickly and can content farm out whatever they want to see what works and then push that till it doesn’t.

So what does it all mean then?

Fake news and click-bait headlines have been an issue for a long-time but it’s only come to the forefront now that it is being blamed for something. It’s great that we want to solve it now but is it too little too late?

This is what we should really be focusing on. Name calling and receding back deeper into our beliefs and only hanging out with people who think the same way, will only make this worse. Yes there are some bad people out there but we need to focus on the good, understand our differences, each other’s needs and figure out ways to help if possible. Nothing is perfect but as an investor, we invest today for what we hope to happen in the next 3–5 years, so we need to start now.

Fake news is just a blame game to cover our own faults and problems we created but it’s not the culprit. I don’t claim to know how to solve this systemic issue or where to begin, but I do know I plan to learn more and listen better.

I have been fortunate to have traveled to about 20 states and 35 countries around the world, one of the best gifts my parents have been able to give me. On my journeys I’ve seen things that are hard to explain but have left a lasting impression on me every time I return to my bubble in NYC. 

 

 

With that said, starting now I plan to travel to more places in the US I’ve never been, meet people who I might not agree with and try to understand their problems. I’m not sure where I’ll go or who I meet but I don’t believe in arbitrary dates like a “New Years Resolution” to start so if you have any ideas, let me know! Or maybe I’ll just start a podcast…

Trust but verify.

And now your moment of zen…

 

Unfortunately the news was completely false but who cares? Read the headline and share it because you want it to be true and sounds great! http://www.thelocal.es/20161125/corona-tycoon-did-not-leave-fortune-to-spanish-villagers

 

This post was very hard to finish because over the week it took me to finish/edit it, more and more fake news examples kept happening. I tried to publicly call out, comment and tweet everyone that shared it unknowingly so they would delete the post and hopefully will think twice next time. Repercussions for sharing fake news? None.