It has been nearly a full year since Donald Trump was elected President of the United States, and fake news has persisted as a problem. In fact, the fake news scourge is likely to get worse before it gets better. Some believe it is because of the centrality of social media’s role in its dissemination. The root of the problem is that fake news producers have learned to effectively use social media to spread lying headlines and misleading stories.
In December of 2016, Facebook acknowledged that fake news was becoming a threat to journalism everywhere. To combat the spread of misinformation on its social media platform, Facebook has launched a variety of efforts that have seen mixed results. In some instances, the company’s deterrents have unintentionally driven an increase in traffic to the worst fake news offenders.
Both Google and Apple have taken steps to prevent the spread of misinformation across their platforms. In the past, Apple CEO Tim Cook has called called for a massive campaign against fake news.
Perhaps the most effective way to combat fake news, comments and reviews is to improve the credibility of existing content and reliable producers of content. The assistant director for the Tow Center for Digital Journalism – Susan McGregor, advocates for verified digital signatures on news stories that confirm the identity of the author, and the time of publication. This would allow news resources, like CNN, to rebuild public trust and set their work apart from that of content mills and fake news factories.
Fake news seems to be everywhere these days and so far experienced reporters have no answers for how journalism could better combat it. Sadly, efforts to remove fake comments, reviews and stories are akin to playing a game of Whack-a-Mole; remove one fake news offender, ten more fake news articles will appear.