Misinformation is false or inaccurate information that is deliberately spread to deceive people into believing it. Misinformation can be powerful in a time when the internet and social media allow you to reach millions of people easily. Many times people will read a piece of information and take it at face value without considering where that information comes from, who made it and they won’t bother to do much research to verify if it’s true. Deep fake is an AI and machine learning-driven form of synthetic media. It allows people to alter pictures and videos to mimic someone’s likeness and it can result in some very convincing fake media.
Politics is probably one of the most common places where you will see misinformation being spread. It’s common for one political party to spread misinformation about their competition to sway the public opinion against them in their favor. This can be outright lies about the other party or it can be more subtle, for example, they may only show bits and pieces of a video that makes that person look bad in the public eye.
Why does misinformation spread so easily?
I would say there are two primary reasons why misinformation spreads so quickly and easily. Firstly, given the popularity of the internet, anyone with a good following can have an opinion and influence thousands of people. It’s no longer just one authority figure/body that is passing out the information and as a result, many times people that aren’t informed or qualified to give an opinion can have a big influence. In a BBC Future Now interview, a panel of 50 experts concluded that the breakdown of trusted information will be one of the main challenges in the 21st Century. Kevin Kelly, CEO of Wired had this to say “The major new challenge in reporting news is the new shape of truth,” said Kevin Kelly, co-founder of Wired magazine. “Truth is no longer dictated by authorities but is networked by peers. For every fact, there is a counter fact and all these counterfacts and facts look identical online, which is confusing to most people.”
What does this mean for the everyday person?
If you want to get anywhere near the truth you are going to have to do a lot of research to get a better picture of the situation. The internet makes it so that if you want to find information that supports your current stance you will always find it. You can also find an endless amount of people that agree with you if you look for it. The habit of seeking out information that supports our current stance is called confirmation bias, which is not a good way to get a balanced opinion. The everyday person needs to be skeptical of everything that they read and see on the internet and do research into both sides of an argument to form a good interpretation of the facts.
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