Children are taught to regurgitate what others tell them and to rely on digital assistants to curate the world rather than learn to navigate the informational landscape on their own. Schools no longer teach source triangulation, conflict arbitration, separating fact from opinion, citation chaining, conducting research or even the basic concept of verification and validation. In short, we’ve stopped teaching society how to think about information, leaving our citizenry adrift in the digital wilderness increasingly saturated with falsehoods without so much as a compass or map to help them find their way to safety.
…[Silicon] Valley has doubled down on technological solutions to combating digital falsehoods, focusing on harnessing legions of “fact checkers” and turning to Website and content blacklists, algorithmic tweaks and other quick fixes that have done little to turn the tide.
…How is it possible that the nation’s most prestigious scholars and scientists at preeminent research institutions and universities could all suspend their disbelief and blindly believe that an anonymous Twitter account claiming to be a secret society “resisting” their government was everything it claimed to be without the slightest bit of verification?
…Algorithms can help citizens sort through the deluge of information around them, identifying contested narratives and disputed facts, but technology alone is not a panacea. There is no magical algorithm that can eliminate all false and misleading information online.
To truly solve the issue of “fake news” we must blend technological assistance with teaching our citizens to be literate consumers of the world around them.
Societies must teach their children from a young age how to perform research, understand sourcing, triangulate information, triage contested narratives and recognize the importance of where information comes from, not just what it says.
…A more information literate society would likely bring with it considerable economic harm to today’s viral-obsessed social platforms that thrive on digital falsehoods, meaning there will be considerable resistance from Silicon Valley to a more information literate society.