The western world has an environment with freedom of speech, where anybody can say whatever they want, about whoever they want. These statements need not be true or free from bias, thus, creates an interesting problem: fake news.
Alternatively, we have a country like China that has established control over the news media and free speech in general. They have backdoor access to all widely used private chat apps, have control over the telecoms, all public media, and blocks access to everything they cannot control via the Great Firewall. The benefit of this is that it obviously cuts down on fake news. The negative aspect is that all news is news that the government wants you to see and hear, whether it is true or false. Another aspect is that there is no ability for people to share information that the government deems destructive, which include most forms of grievances against the government. This creates a totalitarian environment where the best thing you can hope for is that the government leadership is benevolent and is largely taking actions that are good for the majority. If they are not, well, then you have North Korea.
I believe that freedom of speech is an important concept because the future requires transparency, but at the same time, we need to consider whether or not a population is ready for it. Freedom of speech does not mean the freedom from consequences. I believe freedom of speech, along with democracies, requires a certain level of societal and political education. This can be another topic I explore in the future. For now, let’s get back to fake news.
My proposal for dealing with fake news is to have a ranking system for news. The ranking system works like this:
- Each new piece of news starts off at rank 0.
- Each piece of news gets verified by a third party organization whose sole job is to verify the veracity of a certain piece of news, similar to Snopes.com
- These third party organizations are funded by tax dollars.
- There should be at least 3 of them and they should not be politically aligned. They should be truth seekers.
- These third party organizations will state whether or not a piece of news should be treated as fact or purely as opinion.
- All news and media pieces need to display their ranking.
Most news pieces will be rank 0 because the third party verification organizations will have limited amounts of time. They will only be able to verify the more important pieces of news. This means that any news with Rank 0 should always be taken with a significant grain of salt.
What do you think? How would you control fake news while maintaining the concept of freedom of speech?