Designing the Future: Misinformation

Young people in Sheffield work towards solving some of the major issues in the world.

Designing the Future: Misinformation

Tash Bright No Comment

These blog posts were collated by Sheffield Futures staff, based entirely on ideas from a range of young people in Sheffield at our ‘Designing the Future’ workshop, where we asked them to discuss various topics, identify the key issues and come up with potential solutions. We strive to give a voice to all young people, so all of their points of view have been included. 

 

Problems

The internet is an enormous source of misinformation – previously, facts would have to be verified to be published, but now anyone with a computer can reach and influence millions worldwide. People take their statements as fact, which can be dangerous in the wrong hands.

Many sources of ‘facts’ are motivated by money. Search engines and social media websites prioritise the content of those who can afford advertising, meaning the opinion of those with money shows up first. People’s views are verified as social media sites show them personalised content, creating echo chambers of what people want to hear.

Media outlets release negative headlines simply because scandal sells, but this can have a massive impact – from unhealthy obsessions with image in celebrity culture, to the unfair, negative portrayal of different religions. They use compelling, sensational language to cover their lack of transparency with their information sources.

The media also contributes to the high turnover rate of controversies – politicians seem to be knowledge increasingly concerned with short-term gain to the point of telling outright lies, with the that the headlines tomorrow will distract the public from the indecency of today.

 

Solutions

People should be held more accountable for what they say and what they publish. Politicians who lie for their own or their party’s gain, and people in the media who knowingly publish fake news, should be apprehended for fraudulent behaviour.

Media outlets could be subjected to independent reviewers to verify facts so that more accurate information is portrayed.

Role models, celebrities (and everyone else) should stand up for the importance of facts, call out fake news stories and use their influence to preach a kinder way of communicating.

Social media organisations and search engines should be more transparent about how their systems work, and should prioritise factual results by filtering out unreferenced articles.

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