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20 replies, 6 voices Last updated by Ismaele 5 days, 16 hours ago
  • Ismaele

    Thanks @ardalan and welcome in this forum @nicholas! I appreciate your ideas about these general topics and listen to your different viewpoints.

    This time I want to know your opinion about the dynamics of information spreading across the internet and mainly through social networks. Over the past few years we’ve seen fake news spreading in particular moments, even in these days. Which is the role of social networks/social media on that? Here is an article on information spreading about coronavirus (https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-51337357) just as an example, but the discussion is much wider.

    The influence of this can be very important for many aspects of how people behave and face their challenges every day, it is not a joke.

    Do you remember some cases in the past when social media and/or fake news gained the upper hand? Which is your opinion about it? How would you solve this problem?


    Fake News

    Our brain is constantly in “energy saving mode”: it is lazy and always looking for shortcuts to save energy; that’s why, when it comes to inquire about something, people have a tendency to rely on a single source, often the first one they come into contact with, and take everything it says as unique and absolute truth.
    Whereas in the past the main source was newspapers, today the main source of information are definitely Social Networks.

    The advent of technology has meant that, nowadays, disinformation is almost impossible because, somehow, we always come into contact with some form of news: maybe a repost on Facebook from a friend of ours, a post on LinkedIn from a colleague of ours, a tweet on Twitter from a person we esteem, a story on Instagram, a video on TikTok and so on; from the problem of disinformation, we have moved on to the problem of misinformation and manipulated information.
    But why someone should bother themselves to “manipulate the information”? Well, Information is power, and “guiding” the thought of the masses towards a specific idea, is convenient especially when someone is fighting a battle to gain more power; and today it has become easier than ever, thanks to this very interconnection that everyone has through Social Networks, to guide the thoughts of the masses on to beliving something.
    The Cambridge Analytica scandal has shown us how all the data that we “give away” online to the Tech-Giants, allowed them to manipulate people’s thoughts to get them to vote for a certain candidate compared to another, or how easy it is to trigger panic when a virus, like the coronavirus, begins to cast its shadow on mankind.

    Of course, after these terrible events and after the pressure of governments, the companies behind the major social networks have started to take steps to mitigate the spread of these Fake News, as highlighted in the article that @ismaelepaoli shared, putting in place techniques such as censorship, warnings and redirecting to an authoritative sources to inform their users in the right way, in order to fight against the spreading of these Fake News.

    But is that enough?

    In my opinion, it is not.
    No, because what these giants do is nothing more than invade our privacy even more, reading every post or limiting the spread of any kind of information on a large scale, as reported in the article: “Facebook-owned messaging site WhatsApp […] announced measures to prevent users from forwarding messages to more than five people or groups. It also adds a tag to heavily forwarded messages “. This seems to me to be a huge violation of personal privacy and it makes me realize that Facebook is able to control certain processes carried out by its users within its messaging app.

    The platforms we use every day are private platforms, owned and operated by private companies whose purpose is not so much to be ethical or to spread verified news, but to make profits, and this puts them in a position where it is easier to forgive than to ask permission. But I’m digressing.

    The solutions to the Fake News problem, in my opinion, are 3:

    1) DYOR (Do Your Own Research): educate the people not to trust a single source but to research, understand, ask questions and make their own ideas based on many sources.

    2) Relying on sites where the news are verified: since, as previously mentioned, our brain is lazy and it is more difficult to do some research than is to read a single article (or a title, in some cases), we should get informed on sites where the news are checked, approved and modified by many people. Sites like: WikiNews or WikiTribunal or even sites like reddit where news are shared and controlled by multiple users.

    3) AI: we have already talked about Artificial Intelligence, so another option could be to train a neural network that takes multiple sources and put them together into a neutral and bias-free articles with a reasonable degree of accuracy.

    Personally I’m very attracted to projects like WikiTribunal and, for this reason, I hope that this project can really be adopted by the masses.
    As we have Instagram for photos, YouTube for videos, Wikipedia for the online encyclopedia and Facebook to remind us our mom’s birthday, I hope that one day, WikiTribunal, could become the place where everyone will go to read the news.


    Thanks for sharing your opinion with us Nicholas! The example of Cambridge Analitica you mentioned is one of the most famous cases over the last few years, and it is impressive how social networks information influenced people’s point of view.

    Since you said our brain is constantly in “energy saving mode”, and often people want easy/fast information on traditional channels, how would you engage people with real news? Sites like WikiNews or WikiTribunal are punctual but not very known/used everywhere till now. How would you make people rely only on real data/information?

    What about @Ardalan, @Matteo and @Giovanni? What do you think about this topic and about what Nicholas shared with us? How can technology be used, today or in the future, to challenge disinformation?


    My answer to your @ismaelepaoli question is: they should be more present on social networks.
    By now, almost nobody looks for and reads the news directly from the websites of the big newspapers. Almost everyone comes into contact with the news on social networks and then they got redirected to the websites. It’s easier and the user never really leaves the social netowork.

    Unfortunately, realities like WikiTribune and WikiNews are lacking from this point: They have some accounts on social networks like twitter, but they don’t post very often and almost nobody look at them.

    Reddit, on the other hand, being a social network itself, wins on the whole line from this point of view; but, unfortunately, in Italy is still a very niche social network so it’s rare that the average italian knows about it. In my opinion, however, Reddit is the best alternative for most people.

    Anyway, I leave a list of some Italian subreddit for those of you who want to have a look at it 😉

    Ardalan Mehraram


    I believe that the solution is not related too much to the technology, but to the people’s psychology.
    What is very interesting is that it is easier to believe than to don’t believe. There are not enough information to people. For example there are not advertising on TV about fake news on the social network. How could they learn how to recognize whether a news is real or not?
    This is a very huge problem that need to be covered. The aim of my answer is to say that artificial intelligence need a help by the schools. From when you are a teenager, you need to take lessons about these concept, to be ready to face up all the problems that the internet create.
    It is a very interesting point, I would like to know what do you think about it!



    It seems you both are explaining the importance of education on information, and that seems fair to me. Most of it is related on how much a person wants to discover the news’ level of reliability and how much someone is willing to compare info among different sources. Moreover, the effort is in understand which sources are more solid than others, and this may change over time. Nevertheless, sources of information (social networks included) themselves should be aware of their role in spreading news and have a closer control of what is shared, for example certifying verified news with a with a logo (like in instagram verified profiles for instance).

    A new topic now: what do you think about new trends of digital-physical customer experience? Have you ever heard the “Phygital” concept? Big companies like Amazon are thinking about that and how to change clients impression. Could this concept be used also for users of other products or services? Do you think innovation is only related to products or also to how products/services are distributed and perceived?

    You can find some articles below 😉




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