In “The Future of Truth and Misinformation,” an article by the PEW Research Center, a question was asked about what we think will happen in the next ten years with regards to allowing accurate information to be spread rather than misleading “unreliable, sometimes even dangerous, and socially-destabilizing ideas” (Anderson and Rainie). I personally believe that the future of journalism and the spreading of accurate details looks bleak. First of all, as the article mentions, misinformation is a bit more than just the accidental spread of inaccurate details. Increasingly, the spread of “fake news” has been based upon “intentional deception” (Anderson and Rainie). The scale of the spread of misinformation is so grand and the ignorance of the public is so deep that I truly do not think that there will come a time where we can truly be an educated public en mass.
Two of the quotes from people who participated in PEW’s research further demonstrate my views on the subject.
First of all, from Andrew Odlyzko, a professor of math and a former head of the University of Minnesota’s Supercomputing Institute states, “‘What is truth has almost always been a contentious issue. Technological developments make it possible for more groups to construct their ‘alternate realities,’ and the temptation to do it is likely to be irresistible.” Odlyzko’s argument is based upon the fact that part of the problem with misinformation lies in human nature. Humans have always battled with what constituted the truth and truth has always been somewhat relative. Now, with social media and vast amounts of information on the internet, we have the ability to further our own ideas and beliefs; finding and relying upon only the people who agree with us and further solidifying our tenets and foundations.
The second quote that really resonated with me was from an anonymous participant in the PEW research, “Whack-a-mole seems to be our future. There is an inability to prevent new ways of disrupting our information systems. New pathways will emerge as old ones are closed.” I also agree with this statement. It is just so easy to make a false statement right now, and for that statement to be spread to the masses, that I just can’t imagine any type of regulation or technology that can prevent it, without also infringing on our freedom of speech.
We definitely have a big problem, and I’m not sure how it is going to turn out. I want to be optimistic, but seeing what I see on social media and the average intelligence of the populous… I’m a little terrified of the spread of misinformation in our future.
Anderson, Janna, Lee Rainie, Janna Anderson, and Lee Rainie. “About This Canvassing of Experts.” Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech. October 19, 2017. Accessed April 02, 2019. https://www.pewinternet.org/2017/10/19/the-future-of-truth-and-misinformation-online-about-this-canvassing-of-experts/.