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Embassy of Time

A social media experiment for a post-Snopes, post-conspiracy era?

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Posted (edited)
On 6/6/2019 at 9:16 AM, conq said:

The problem is you can't really remove all bias and be trusted.

This is not the real issue here. The real issue is that there are openly false stories posted and taken seriously by far too many people. When you have hacks like Alex Jones able to garner a following, that's the real issue. 

17 hours ago, ChaosEngine said:

Disagree. Who publishes the information should be irrelevant. In fact, that’s a logical fallacy “ad hominem”.

And this definitely tackles the issue of bias as well. If someone who is Republican starts spreading the claim that the White House is run by Martians, well if it's verifiable by other people with verifiable evidence, etc, then maybe the White House is run by Martians.

if someone who is a Democrat starts spreading a claim that the moon is going to slam into the Earth in a week and it cannot be corroborated or verified, then it needs to be ignored. 

Who posted the claim is pretty irrelevant to the discussion. Is there evidence that can be corroborated? Has it been corroborated?

Arguably if the dude in question though (whoever he/she is) has a track record of spreading bullshit, then that's where the who matters. But even then, arguably you can usually check most claims and find out if they are false or not.

 

On the note of the whole idea posited here though, I'm not sure that as a solution this can help. People still choose to ignore (and routinely do ignore) what is arguably not difficult to find out. The problem is that people trust fake news stories pretty quickly and continue to spread it, either because of feeling confirmed, or just being too trusting. This is then compounded by the fact that large institutions and organizations are either doing nothing or too little about this, or are actively spreading it. Facebook, for example, while increasing its efforts to stop fake news, still doesn't do a ton. Also, just look at their role in Myanmar and the disaster that happened their with the Rohingya. The next facet that compounds this issue is that prominent individuals and organizations actively promote fake news stories. 

There was an interesting article on BBC about ideas for stopping fake news: http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20181114-could-this-game-be-a-vaccine-against-fake-news

Edited by deltaKshatriya

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The purple alien tells me that there are those who will try to discredit the secrets to eternal life and happiness. These people are funded by an alliance between the orange aliens and old world order politicians seeking control of the masses. Now that you've been inoculated, you know you should trust everything I say and ignore everyone else because they're just part of the conspiracy.

No, I don't think that technique for stopping the spread of disinformation will work.

7 hours ago, Embassy of Time said:

The idea of source reputation has been raised, yes. This goes for site members as well as external sources (NY Times vs. NY Post, for example. Or the tinfoilhat hobo on the corner). But the metrics for what constitutes a trusted source is not only insanely hard to say (right now), it's also kinda subjective..? So I'm open for ideas. Wiiiide open.... 

Food is a pretty subjective thing too. Yet people generally know about star ratings and that it suggest a degree of quality of a restaurant. How did they develop metrics for rating subjective consumable products? How does anyone become a respected figure providing critical analysis on works of a product in many ways is completely subjective? If its at all like reviewing games and assuming it can be transferred to the news industry, it seems you just do it and build up a following.

I just consume the news, I don't really know what metrics would be ideal for evaluating its quality or reliability. As I understand, and please correct me if I'm wrong, news organizations each have their own set of ethics and standards with no central authority to evaluate, critique, or otherwise audit or examine the organization's adherence to their own standards or how they would hold against another organizations standards. Seems to me that it is not "ad hominem" to evaluate process or quality of work.

5 hours ago, deltaKshatriya said:

On the note of the whole idea posited here though, I'm not sure that as a solution this can help. People still choose to ignore (and routinely do ignore) what is arguably not difficult to find out. The problem is that people trust fake news stories pretty quickly and continue to spread it, either because of feeling confirmed, or just being too trusting. This is then compounded by the fact that large institutions and organizations are either doing nothing or too little about this, or are actively spreading it. Facebook, for example, while increasing its efforts to stop fake news, still doesn't do a ton. Also, just look at their role in Myanmar and the disaster that happened their with the Rohingya. The next facet that compounds this issue is that prominent individuals and organizations actively promote fake news stories.  

I guess there are a number of factors that are relevant. I wonder if it isn't so much people being too lazy to verify something but a lack of opportunity to verify when discussions or information consumption occurs very rapidly. Which is why I'm hoping a more widely known reputation of a source would mitigate, though not solve, the problem.

People will probably always be inclined to disbelieve authority figures and want to listen to embrace ideas that support the notion that they are good people that have been oppressed or fooled by others seeking advantage. The emotions stirred up as such are real and powerful and are ignored potentially at the peril of politicians seeking re-election. Numbers won't matter. Facts won't matter. But having a reliable, trustworthy record of history for people to look back upon is absolutely essential if there is to be any hope of understanding later how we got to where we are.

 

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Random thoughts while the coffee brews:

- push = bad, pull = good (That excludes nearly all public information services, from radio to social media).

- Have a teacher's pants contract when recommending Wikipedia as an information source, have worse things happen when luring aspiring youngsters to fb, etc ...

- Have people who strive for power and/or preach hate make animal noises in their speeches.

- Give influence to people who care for others, animals and who clean up behind them, etc.

- Give XP when using peer reviewed journals as a source, or when supporting science as opposed to politics.

...

Coffee's ready :-)

 

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On 6/7/2019 at 8:51 PM, kseh said:

I guess there are a number of factors that are relevant. I wonder if it isn't so much people being too lazy to verify something but a lack of opportunity to verify when discussions or information consumption occurs very rapidly. Which is why I'm hoping a more widely known reputation of a source would mitigate, though not solve, the problem.

Maybe? I'm more pessimistic myself about people I suppose. That and, arguably, it might just be really tough to verify things. In many countries fake news is spread via WhatsApp, which is a messaging service. People might not have access to the Internet, but they do have access to WhatsApp. In this scenario, fake news texts are forwarded very very quickly and have lead to enormous issues. How do you build verification systems for that? I can't imagine trying to stop that spread.

That and I've honestly just seen that people are very willing to trust these sources. In some cases, it's a great way to feel vindicated for previously held beliefs, creating a feedback cycle. In others, it's just new technology that the society just isn't used to.

Maybe an easily accessible and reputable source of truth would help. I guess you're right in saying it'll mitigate the issue, but not solve.

On 6/7/2019 at 8:51 PM, kseh said:

People will probably always be inclined to disbelieve authority figures and want to listen to embrace ideas that support the notion that they are good people that have been oppressed or fooled by others seeking advantage. The emotions stirred up as such are real and powerful and are ignored potentially at the peril of politicians seeking re-election. Numbers won't matter. Facts won't matter. But having a reliable, trustworthy record of history for people to look back upon is absolutely essential if there is to be any hope of understanding later how we got to where we are

Part of the problem is that authority figures are also actively spreading falsehoods. We also have supposedly reputable organizations spreading falsehoods as well. I'm partly pessimistic for this reason: there are some pretty potent forces in the fake news camp. And as you pointed out, politicians won't want to ignore the emotions since they're running for reelection or for election. I can hope that creating more sources of truth that are reputable will help.

I've become very pessimistic over the past few years though.

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I'm aware of the stories of WhatsApp that you're alluding to. In such cases, there are other social issues in play that are beyond your control. It can be as something as simple as a grudge between two individuals or some deep rooted fear. This is not the place start your focus. Don't try to create a new source of truth. Give strength and credibility to the existing sources of truth.

I know we live in this world where we have the ability to deploy a piece of software and it reaches the world instantly. But the product that you want to make available to the world is rooted in trust, not entertainment or communication. Trying to build trust world wide and instantly instantly... well I think that is doomed to fail from the start. Start locally. Work in a culture that is closer to you, that you are more familliar with, and that you can be active in. Build a reputation and then expand. If your reputation is strong and merrited then people will want to embrace your service.

But I think another thing to consider is, to address the issue you're looking at here, I don't think you're going to do it with one software solution alone. You need to be looking at building a company that is the Standard and Poors of journalistic integrity. You can't just drop a piece of software in the app store and wait for the world to change itself.

 

 

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