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Random Thought for Friday, November 18th, 2016: Fake News and Dangers of Censorship

IMG_20140419_111752Welcome to Friday’s Random Thought.

I’m sorry for this super serious post but when I heard about this my brain started racing this week. As many of you may have head from across the Internet, Google and Facebook have announced that they will no longer allow ‘fake news’ websites to purchase ads on their platforms.

The majority response is very positive as taking this action may actually have an impact on the number of ‘click bait’ items that show up in people’s social network feeds.  For those of you who are blessed to not know, ‘click bait’ is what appears to be a legitimate post on your social network feeds that when you click on it, takes you to a web page rife with ads and either outdated content or very questionable content.

So, taking action to stop ‘click-bait’ and/or public dissemination of incorrect information being portrayed as news is a good thing, right?

That’s where the slippery slope begins. Who decides what news is real and what news is fake?

That’s the dangerous question and the more dangerous answer.  In reading various comments on various websites that have run with the story about the actions Google and Facebook are going to take leads one to see that people consider places like CNN, MSNBC, NBC, Fox News, ABC and CBS to be ‘fake news’ websites.

Yup, that’s correct.  The main stream media is being called out all over the Internet as being ‘questionable’ in nature, mainly for the way this past election was handled to say nothing about how information about all the candidates was presented.  For the record, there was a lot of bias and it was glaringly blatant.  Of that, there is no question.

So, will websites run by CNN, MSNBC, NBC, Fox News, ABC and CBS be disallowed from purchasing ads from Google and Facebook? Probably not but this only highlights my major concern.  Someone will be calling the shots as to what will be declared real new and fake news. Can we trust companies such as Google, Facebook, Twitter or the government to make responsible decisions as to what is real and what is fake news? In short, no.

I’m sorry everyone but this is just another chance for power to be abused and valid voices to be silenced.  Everyone will say that “we can trust this person or this company”.  Really?  If anything was learned during the recent election cycle here in the USA it is that mainstream media has not been honest with the people whether intentional or not.  Half the country doesn’t trust the government.  Good intentions aside, this much power will be abused.  it’s not a question of if but rather when. It’s unfortunate but it’s indisputably true.

It’s an impossible problem and one must accept that impossible problems sometimes require impossible solutions.

If Twitter, Google, Facebook, Reddit and other social networks are serious about stopping ‘click-bait’ and at the same time cleaning up news sources of ‘fake material’, there is only one solution that will work.

STOP ALLOWING NEWS WEBSITES TO PURCHASE ADS ON THEIR RESPECTIVE SERVICES. ONLY ALLOW ADS FOR ACTUAL PRODUCTS SUCH AS EBOOKS, COMPUTERS, SHOES, CARS, ETC…

I know, that’s the one thing that none of these services will want to do, but it the one thing that will stop these ‘click-bait’ and/or fake news websites from doing what they are doing.  If you stop traffic to those websites, they will stop making money and eventually go away altogether. Yes, this will hurt websites that are not misbehaving and that is collateral damage here but I don’t see an alternative.  If someone has one, please speak up and join the conversations out on the Internet.

This solution will also address the censorship issue.  As the driver for the creation of ‘click-bait’ and fake news sites will be removed, there is no need to everyone to put their trust in someone to declare which news sites are valid and which not valid. This takes the potential for abuse by a person or an organization out of the equation.

All these social network sites thought outside of the box to create their businesses.  Perhaps it’s time they think outside the box again to both preserve the free and open nature of the Internet AND stop the scourge of ‘click-bait’.

Such an action will allow the people of the Internet to do what they should be allowed to do; access information unaltered and be allowed to think for themselves and to determine through their own mental faculties, what it true and what is false.

It’s not such a bad thing to trust the people to think for themselves for a change.

Happy Friday Everyone!

Published inFriday's Random Thought

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