Never more true than today, knowledge is power. Or more aptly in today’s world the ability to provide & control the flow of knowledge is power. Recently there’s been several large course corrections occur, several years too late but hey, better late than never as the saying goes. This highlights one of the biggest and most major flaws with the way we consume information on the internet. Social media, for good and for ill, is now a major source of information and “news” for millions of people across the planet.
There are countless examples of the way that misinformation & even disinformation is created, spread and broadcast across the web. None more prevalent & far reaching than social media. Social media disarms in a way that in person discussion & social interaction previously couldn’t. If you heard a story in person that even one or two people could corroborate it would be easy to accept as true, or just as easily refuted by the same small number. Social media however allows for truth & fiction to live side by side, both gathering 10s, 100s often 1000s of interactions and reposts, with as much corroboration as refuting on things as basic as the shape of our planet or the state of the environmental disaster we’re living through. This flood of communial discourse creates a situation that antiquates humans and our thousands of years honing techniques for filtering fact from fiction by social cues and discussion, outdated and near impossible to apply to current internet platforms.
This last revelation made me consider how a change to the platforms might give us a fighting chance at least. Twitter started to fight back against the aggressive propaganda peddling by a certain infamous politician, adding a disclaimer when the claims made in a tweet couldn’t be verified or were in stark contrast against other well respected sources. Then the idea of a platform showing a score or weighting beside a post which is indicative of the post being considered fact, achieved by having linkable references and expanding on commonly provable knowledge, even something this basic would be a step in a better direction.