According to recent reports, fake news are shared significantly more on Facebook than real news. That peace of information have created wide spread discussion, some even accusing Facebook to have contributed to the election of President Trump in the US by not providing tools to separate reality from false news.
Personally, I don`t know about that and I don`t know if the reports are true… however, what I do know is that information is a commodity and like everything else; we get what we pay for it.
We pay directly or indirectly. We pay by subscribing, we pay by consuming advertising, we pay via the value of our personal information that we share or through the combination of those.
The most dangerous means of getting information is through a media (old or new, including social media) that benefit from your attention.
A media may benefit from your attention to it in the following ways:
-It sell advertising: The more attention you give to that media, the more you are exposed to the advertising it sells. It benefit from the fact that you are spending time watching, hearing or reading it. Because of that, it will try to find the ways that you are going to be pleased to spend time with it and will try to lure you with whatever content will please you more. In the end, it has no interest in exposing you to something that may be important to you but are not likely to like.
-It support an ideology: It is supported by people who are benefiting of convincing you of a point of view. It will present you a bias view of the world and not facts. It will use your concerns to win you over, even if it means using falsities or sophism in order to convince you of their view of the world.
-It needs to know you: It needs to monetise your personal information. In order to do that, it needs you to spend time engaging with content and will try present you content that will please you.
-It needs an audience: Even the media that are advertising free, are not supporting an ideology in an open way and are not using your personal information needs a following. It may be financed by the state or by donations but in either case, it needs your attention to justify its existence and its budget. In doing so, it will also try to engage you with content that you like and not necessarily the facts that you need to know. Granted, this is not as dependent of your attention and engagement as the media that are based on advertising but be aware that it still has a bias.
So at the end, you pay for it one way or another and you are not getting the information that you need to know the reality, the objective facts.
The only way really to get the objective facts would be to pay for news that are factual, objective and have no other goals than serving those very needs.
Do you think that people would be willing to pay for hard, cold facts without analysis and bias? It may not be not be something very enjoyable to read but given the outcome of living in a world of bias’ information and opinions, it may be what is needed and people may begin to understand it.
Yes, in information like anything else, you get what you pay for.