Whether it is about the presidential election, climate change, or Covid-19 vaccines and the delta variant, misinformation continues to spread rampantly across social media. According to a Pew Research Service study from January, more than eight-in-ten U.S. adults (86 percent) said they get their news from a smartphone. It is easy to see why misinformation continues to spread.
While we may expect, even demand that the social platforms crack down on misinformation, there is little likelihood that Facebook, Twitter or YouTube will ever stamp out it. One reason is that it would take full-time policing of virtually all content, but then there is also the fact that these platforms depend on continued use.
Simply put, misinformation gets clicks.
We see so much misinformation because the platforms have no real interest in deterring it,” explained technology and telecommunications analyst Roger Entner of Recon Analytics.
“It is really easy and free to join the platform, there is no profit in deleting the misinformation and preventing provocateurs to post it,” Entner warned.
“Actually, the platforms profit from it because the more outrageous the content the more people interact with it – this type of ‘engagement’ is what the platforms are looking for; people reacting to things. It doesn’t matter if it’s true or false as long as they engage,” Entner added. “There is also no downside in the anonymous multimedia world, but even when high profile people spread lies, there are no repercussions. Everything gets sacrificed on the altar of monetization through engagement.”
Spotting Not Stopping The Misinformation
Since it can’t – and likely won’t– be stopped, then the best course of action is spotting it. This may not be as easy as it sounds, because misinformation is often presented as news and/or fact. In some cases, it can be wrong by misunderstanding, whilst in other cases it is misleading by design