Centralized “Truth” – 13 Ways To Fight Fake News (And The Big Problem With All Of Them)

Will humans or computer algorithms be the future arbiters of “truth”?

The following infographic from Futurism sums up the ideas that academics, technologists, and other experts are proposing that we implement to stop the spread of fake news.

Below the infographic, Visual Capitalist’s Jeff Desjardins raises concerns about each of these methods.

Courtesy of: Visual Capitalist

While fake news is certainly problematic, the solutions proposed to penalize articles deemed to be “untrue” are just as scary.

By centralizing fact checking, a system is created that is inherently fragile, biased, and prone for abuse. Furthermore, the idea of axing websites that are deemed to be “untrue” is an initiative that limits independent thought and discourse, while allowing legacy media to remain entrenched.

CENTRALIZING “TRUTH”

It could be argued that the best thing about the internet is that it decentralizes content, allowing for any individual, blog, or independent media company to stimulate discussion and new ideas with low barriers to entry. Millions of new entrants have changed the media landscape, and it has left traditional media flailing to find ways to adjust revenue models while keeping their influence intact.

If we say that “truth” can only be verified by a centralized mechanism – a group of people, or an algorithm written by a group of people – we are welcoming the idea that arbitrary sources will be preferred, while others will not (unless they conform to certain standards).

Based on this mechanism, it is almost certain that well-established journalistic sources like The New York Times or The Washington Post will be the most trusted. By the same token, newer sources (like independent media, or blogs written by emerging thought leaders) will not be able to get traction unless they are referencing or receiving backing from these “trusted” gatekeepers.

THE IMPACT?

This centralization is problematic – and here’s a step-by-step reasoning of why that is the case:

First, either method (human or computer) must rely on preconceived notions of what is “authoritative” and “true” to make decisions. Both will be biased in some way. Humans will lean towards a particular consensus or viewpoint, while computers must rank authority based on different factors (Pagerank, backlinks, source recognition, or headline/content analysis).

Next, there is a snowball effect involved: if only posts referencing these authoritative sources of “truth” can get traction on social media, then these sources become even more authoritative over time. This creates entrenchment that will be difficult to overcome, and new bloggers or media outlets will only be able to move up the ladder by associating their posts with an existing consensus. Grassroot movements and new ideas will suffer – especially those that conflict with mainstream beliefs, government, or corporate power.

Finally, this raises concerns about who fact checks the fact checkers. Forbes has a great post on this, showing that Snopes.com (a fact checker) could not even verify basic truths about its own operations.

Removing articles deemed to be “untrue” is a form of censorship. While it may help to remove many ridiculous articles from people’s social feeds, it will also impact the qualities of the internet that make it so great in the first place: its decentralized nature, and the ability for any one person to make a profound impact on the world.

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Haaretz: Israel should talk to hunger strikers before a 3rd intifada erupts

If Israel does not respond to the Palestinian hunger strikers’ demands the situation on the ground could deteriorate into a Third Intifada, Haaretz warned in its editorial yesterday. The paper said: “The hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners entered its 35th day on Sunday. Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan hasn’t tried to resolve the strike through negotiations with the prisoners over their demands. Instead he has tried to break the strikers and end the action by force. Erdan has been threatening to force-feed the strikers.” If the government doesn’t quickly come to its senses and find a way to deal with the strike, hundreds of prisoners could die… Force-feeding is an indecent practice that violates medical ethics. Some people view it […]

<b>Crude</b> prices jump

Oil extended gains as Saudi Arabia announced that all producers … Price of the Brent crude oil at the London ICE (InterContinental Exchange Futures) …The post <b>Crude</b> prices jump appeared first on crude-oil.news.

Greek Authorities To Launch Mass Confiscation Of Safe Deposit Boxes, Securities, Homes In Tax-Evasion Crackdown

Last week, the Greek parliament once again approved more austerity to unlock withheld Greek bailout funds in Brussels: a symbolic move, which has little impact without any actual follow through, like for example, actually imposing austerity. And while Greeks have been very good in the former (i.e. promises), they have been severely lacking in the latter (i.e. delivery).

That may be changing. According to Kathimerini, Greek Finance Ministry inspectors are about to start seeking out the owners of all local undeclared properties, while the law will be amended to allow for financial products and the content of safe deposit boxes to be confiscated electronically. The plan for the identification of taxpayers who have “forgotten” to declare their properties to the tax authorities is expected to be ready by year-end, according to the timetable of the Independent Authority for Public Revenue.

What follows then will be a wholesale confiscation by the government of any asset whose source, origins and funding can not be explained.

The Greek tax authorities will receive support from the Land Register to that end, as by end-September IAPR inspectors are set to obtain access to the company’s database to draw details on properties. Any taxpayers identified as having skipped the declaration of their assets to the tax authorities will be asked to comply and declare them, along with paying the tax and fines dictated by law. Should taxpayers fail to do so, the asset will be “sequestered.”

Kathimerini also notes that the IAPR is also waiting for Parliament to pass regulations permitting the mass confiscation of safe deposit box contents and financial assets such as securities.

To date the process has been conducted in handwriting and is therefore particularly slow in locating the assets of taxpayers who have either concealed incomes or have major debts to the state. It is about to get much more streamlined: once the necessary regulations are in place for the operation of an automatic system to collect debts, the tax authorities will be able to issue online confiscation notices and immediately get their hands on the contents of safe deposit boxes, confiscating cash, precious stones, jewelry and so on. They will also be able to confiscate shares and other securities.

This year the tax authorities will focus their efforts on confiscations as they try to reduce the huge pile of expired debts to the state. In this context the Independent Authority for Public Revenue will auction 27 properties belonging to state debtors by the end of next month, with the aim of collecting 2.7 billion euros by the end of the year from old debts and another 690 million euros of new debts from major debtors.

We will share the details of the auctions with readers as some notable bargains may emerge in the coming months.

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