Journalists have lost their gatekeeping power to other platforms, such as Google or Twitter. Today, more than 60 percent of Americans gather their news from Facebook – in the Philippines it’s even more: 97 percent of the people online use the network.
The shift from traditional to social media has an impact on world policits: from Brexit and the Trump campaign to the Kenyan elections. Leaders use fake news and social media “to dictate and control the public narrative”, says Maria Ressa, CEO and Executive Editor of the news network Rappler, at the Global Investigative Journalism Conference. “We have to clean the world up and define a new order”, she continues.
Along with Maria Ressa, Arta Giga, a leading TV producer for investigative journalism in Latvia, Lee Mugambi, deputy editor of Africa Check, Anya Schiffrin, Director of International Media at Columbia University, and Leon Willems, Director of Policies and Programmes at Free Press Unlimited, combined their knowledge and experience to put together a list of strategies to fight fake news:
Investigate and expose
Journalists need to uncover fake news and make them visible as such. They need to provide correct and balanced information to the public instead.
Media outlets have a responsibility to expose the mechanisms of how social media platforms distribute information. Right now, algorithms filter information by general interest and ideology – further strengthening preconceived opinions of the users. Journalists need to find a way to reach even those who are part of a different “information bubble”.
Regulate and tax social media companies
At the moment, social media platforms have no incentive to intensively uncover and prosecute fake news. Therefore, governments need to implement policies that force these companies to put more effort into preventing the spread of false information. Fact checking by journalists is not enough – it’s too slow, time-consuming and never ending. Technical solutions are needed instead and social media outlets need to “spend as much time thinking this through as they do growing”, says Maria Ressa.
Comedy show about lies
TV programs, social media campaigns and Stand-up Comedy can help to make the public aware of how lies are deliberately spread.
Research exchange networks
Media outlets should work together with others who have the same interest in gaining a better understanding of how fake news work, such as universities, research centres, government bodies and other initiatives.
Public campaign to raise awareness
Media organisations, public entities and non-profit initiatives need to attract attention to the fact that fake news and their systematic purpose exist. Users need to know that news on social media are not necessarily produced with journalistic standards – therefore, they need to think critically about what they read and see.
Turn social media houses into non profits
Social media platforms should be considered as a public good that contributes to the well-being of the entire society.
Media literacy and education
In the short run, social media organizations need to be regulated through government policies. The mid- and long-term strategy must be to teach basic fact checking skills to everyone.
Sira Thierij ist freie Journalistin und studiert zurzeit Journalismus und Internationale Sicherheit an der Sciences Po in Paris. Sie absolviert neben dem Studium das Programm der JONA. Für die Vuvuzela, das Magazin der Wits Universität, hat sie bei der GIJC17 das Panel “Fighting Fake News” besucht.