134: Opportunity: Dealing With Fake News
Need A New Opportunity to build a Billion Dollar Business? Deal with the Fake News Problem
We’re going to talk a little bit about something that recently been covered in the news right around the time of the election and want to talk about a little bit because it might be an interesting opportunity for those of you out there who are looking for some new type of startup opportunity to really dig into I am not sure how much of a problem this is but let’s talk about it anyway and see if we can deconstruct some opportunities in this space.
So you’ve probably heard over the last little while from a number of different sources that people feel or certain companies media companies Internet companies feel they were being inundated with something known as fake news and I thought it was interesting the term fake news fake news term seems to have cropped up right after the election and it also it’s very coincidental that it cropped up right after the election and the term.
I was trying to get a definition from several people on Facebook, so I said “What is the definition of fake news because if you ask me the definition of fake news is anything reported as real, whether it’s true or not, that is taken as true, that I choose to disagree with.
Seeing it is like because especially in this very politically charged atmosphere post-election. Is it a lot of people on the left are talking about how it was the preponderance or something about the preponderance of “fake news”, that caused them to lose the election? I think that’s crazy. And what they get anything to do with that but it’s just interesting that sort of like suddenly this term fake news has popped up and it’s kind of like well we need to eradicate fake news.
So, I thought well let’s dig into this a little bit and figure out what exactly is fake news and I did some research on what people thought fake news was and most people thought it was a blatant falsehood. So, something that was one hundred percent untrue. Right. And then the second aspect of it was it was an emotionally charged fact or something purported to be fact which is trying to drive people to reaction or action or both. Right.
Apparently, a fake news story was circulating before the election about. Well it could be any topic right so. If somebody something comes out into the wires and it could be from a sketchy news source or something like that but nobody if it agrees with your world view people take that piece of news. Whether is fake. Or not. And circulated right so you have these individual echo chambers focused on one party or another or a dependent or whatever and they see a piece of news which either which reaffirms the worldview. Say if you’re for Candidate A. You see a news article whether it’s real or not is beside the point. It is an article that purports to be real. And affirms candidate A and if you are for a candidate and you will see the news article and you will grab it read it and distribute it. And then it’ll just get increasingly viral so within that echo chamber for candidate A These articles are thrown in that are positive for Candidate A. And if they are in war and negative for Candidate B. so positive candidate A and negative candidate B articles are thrown into the echo chamber.
They are passed around as truth when they may be false. That’s probably the definition of fake news so fake news, an article which is presented as fact but may or may not be true that you do not agree with. If you’re a supporter of candidate A and you see a piece of news against Candidate A then you will call it fake news. But if the article is for Candidate A then you will not call it fake news. You will circulate it like it’s real.
Suddenly after the election there’s this focus on fake news. As I was going through this discussion we realize that it really is no different for propaganda, which is basically the same thing as reporting something as if it’s true. But really, it’s twisted by opinion and the reality is and I’ve talked about this before on my blog and in other podcasts is that this is the problem the journalism has: an opinion versus fact problem. Journalism used to be reporting, it used to be here are the facts you decide. Now everything that comes out of everyone all media whether it be mainstream or non-mainstream or whatever has bias. Some of that has obvious bias and some of that has not obvious bias, they say that they’re fair and balanced when they really aren’t.
What is fake news but propaganda and if it’s propaganda then this is stuff that we’ve been dealing with forever right. I mean. Some stuff is obviously overt propaganda and other stuff is you can’t really tell if it’s probably gamed or not is because it’s been so subtly altered to seem real. You know I was reading the other day I was reading an article TIME magazine it was the Donald Trump person of the Year cover page and there was an article along with that and the entire article. Up until the very last line was very neutral extremely neutral and then basically stating several different things that happened in Trump’s life.
Until the very last line when. I guess the editor let the writer loose to five to expound on how he felt about Donald Trump. He put in a paragraph of stuff which if you took out that would make the article fully neutral. Is that article fake news? Could you call it fake news because it has a smattering of opinion in it?
But I digress
So here’s the problem. Let’s get to the problem the opportunity for a solution. So how does someone come along and say OK we have a fake news problem. And if the reality is that we do have a fake news problem let’s see if we can try and figure out some opportunity to solve this fake news problem. Maybe if we figure out an opportunity to solve this fake news problem someone will pay us in order to help them solve the fake news problem.
The solution that a number of the big internet companies are coming up with Facebook Google Microsoft Yahoo, I’m not sure who else is in the consortium, is that they’ve come up with some kind of shared database of truth or I think with the way they presented it as a anti-terrorist message database. They could amongst themselves confirm the validity of a news story. That validity would be transmitted to all of them so they would all get together and do their own fact checking. I guess you could say so they would do their own fact checking on a news article so an article would come in to the site in some way or another could be spidered or whatever by something like Google spider. It would come into the site and it would be checked against this master list of sources or whatever to confirm whether this is true or not.
Now the problem is that what does this do with citizen journalism? Let’s say I’m boots on the ground in Turkey or some other country where there’s some insurrection going on. I tweet this tweet that you could is it real. How does this massive database of fact supposedly fact-checked stuff allow somebody like a citizen journalism never been there before? Who’s never been online before who’s not in the system before. How do we know that this person is real? How do we know that their reports are real? How do we know it’s just some it’s not some prankster who just happens to be in Turkey sending these tweets into the system? How do we know that? So it’s a hairy problem. It’s a tough problem because first you have to define what fake news is and there’s some differing opinion on what it is some people say it’s things that are blatantly false but ninety nine percent of what is reported is fake news is not things that are blatantly false there’s things that can be and they can’t be proven. So, the reality is how do you come up with a database of things that can’t be proven if you don’t have proofs?
I don’t know maybe this is not a problem at all. Maybe this is one of those things that is it definitely is eventually going to blow over because they finally realize that it’s are promoting fake news because if you think about it in these echo chambers Google and Facebook and all these other companies that make money off of advertising they profited from fake news if they didn’t have their customers circulating fake news around into their echo chambers they probably wouldn’t a made as much money I think I’m sure there was a huge profit motive but then you get to the point where maybe they realize that allowing all of this supposedly fake news to circulate within the echo chambers actually ended up costing the election. I doubt that that occurred but maybe that’s why they’re suddenly this focus on.
That’s the opportunity. The opportunity is when something like that comes into the system or comes into onto the Internet, how do you determine the truthfulness of this post this tweet this article this Web site? How do you determine that when somebody posts that Hillary Clinton is involved in a child sex scandal that this thing is true or not? How can you tell now? You can even put in sort of a “too outrageous” filter but then again there are many things that are deemed outrageous that are true.
There is a huge opportunity here if you ask me. For those who are looking to figure out this fake news solution then if you ask me that seems to me like a big problem for those who are concerned with it and it’s an opportunity this should be focused on and looked at. Let’s think about defining what fake news is let’s look at figuring out ways to determine the truthfulness of a news item and then figure out some way of reporting that.