Fraudulent news and the fight for truth

Date Posted: May 31, 2019 Last Modified: May 31, 2019
Stopping fake news: The work practices of peer-to-peer counter propaganda Photo: Gerd Altmann, Pixabay

The rise of fake news and the rising distrust in the traditional news media poses a looming threat to American democracy and civic life. This report examines the rise of fake news which is defines as fraudulent information garbed as factual news report with the intention of deceiving the public. It identifies proposed solutions at the intersections of technology, journalism, and civil society to empower audiences with better skills and tools to fight fake news. 

  • The report finds that while fake news is harmful to democratic process, it should not be used as justification for implementing broad new government or corporate restrictions which would cause further harm to free speech.
  • While technology and social media platforms have an important role to play in curbing the spread of fake news, approaches like cutting off revenue or adjusting algorithms to target fake news sites must be strictly limited to known purveyors of fake information.
  • Social media platforms should also explore the option of equipping users with verification tools and skills to evaluate the information they see online. They should explore way to incorporate media literacy information on their platforms and support fact-checking organisation and projects.
  • Technology and social media companies need to be more transparent with their data in order to aid researchers investigating how well their measures to curb misinformation is working. Fact-checker can also identify ways to improve their work and its impact, and the public can understand more about how information is presented to them on these platforms.
  • New organisations can be more transparent about their fact-checking process and improve their labelling of content and graphics to ensure news items are visually distinct from opinion pieces, analysis etc.
  • The inclusion of news literacy programs among the general public especially the youth is the most effective long-term solution to combating fake news.