Two points to consider when finding authentic information within a socially networked world are:
1. Just because people know the source of the information is wrong it does not mean they will change their mind
De keersmaecker & Roets (2017) argue that even when people find out that a piece of information they based an assessment off was fake, that doesn’t mean that a person will re-evaluate their position. This is an important point as often when reading news and opinion you assume that everyone is working off the same (or similar) views of ‘the facts’. While I have understood for a long time the difference between news and propaganda, when the news can be tainted not just by bias but by complete lies that have since been disproved it makes the search for ‘authentic’ information much harder particularly when looking for analysis of facts.
2. What is driving social media to display ‘authentic information’ to you?
In the last few years, Facebook has been shown to:
- Fuel hate-speech in Myanmar
- Conduct psychological experiments on its users
- Shared user’s private messages with other companies
As Jewell (2017) discusses, a company with this type of record needs to be treated with considerable caution and when the company’s founder discusses the vision of creating a social institution that can facilitate interaction between politicians and the public. When the company’s “main consideration is commercial” no matter what claims they make about ensuring the well-being of their users, it is impossible to trust that information you discover on the platform is not intended to manipulate your views or being displayed ahead of more relevant content due to commercial considerations. Facebook is not alone in holding this form of power and to be fair, this type of power has been held by media companies for centuries. The user however does need to ensure that any ‘authentic’ information is validated by a number of reputable other sites before being shared or used to inform your decision making process.