To a great degree Social media is intrinsically interlaced with all human behavior in some shape or form. It is observed that news hits 20 minutes faster on social media than any other traditional channel. As you may be aware more and more news agencies are beginning to put most of their efforts towards their social media assets. They have also devised ways to monetize news content that they distribute on social media in the form of overlays, pre news video ads to various other in stream ads. Journalists are beginning to use social media as their preferred way of contact as well as their preferred channel of distribution. A recent study done by cision showed some interesting insights (below):

There are two strong eco systems at play when it comes to journalism on social media. One being the obvious, journalists and news agencies who are moving to social media as a natural adaptation. The second is the growth of citizen journalism.

The Rise of Citizen Journalism

Citizen journalism is on a rapid growth from Facebook live accident updates to, war zone SOS messages on twitter to crazy youtube clips of racism. The availability of a smartphone and a internet connection makes anyone a immediate journalist. While the growth of citizen journalism is seen as a liberalization of information, I can’t help but address the elephant in the room. It has given birth to a large influx of fake news.

The Elephant in the Room is “Fake News on Social Media”

Crowd sourced citizen journalism is a brilliant idea in theory, but if you really look deep in side this is a big problem. Prior to the social media era, all news agencies, journalists were held accountable for everything they report and legitimacy of any news article could be questioned and inaccuracies could result in severe penalties including losing their licenses. So to simply put there it was either true, or globally acceptable as true. However due to the positive impact of citizen journalism, communities are fast forgetting to value the authenticity of the source when perceiving news on social media. In other words they will believe a news item published by “a random person” just as much as they believe a news item published by the BBC or al Jazeera. Fake news is a readily used tool to sway voters just before an election. The frightening thing is that you don’t need to verify what you put out there to a great degree, it’s somewhat guilty until proven inocent.

What Can We Do About Fake News?

Well weeding out all fake news from social media or preventing people from publishing fake news in future seems to be out of the question as it works against the global open community that most social media platforms are trying to build. However we can look at developing browser and social media plugins to rate publishers given the authenticity of their previous activity. for example we can build a browser plugin with allows users to mark a news post as true , questionable or fake. Then as times goes by when someone sees the post the plugin will indicate the popular sentiment with regards to the authenticity. This can also apply to publishers, where someone who has been publishing content which is marked fake by many would notified along with any new content.

Well there you have it, let me know your thoughts on the matter.