Featured Imgaes Opinion

Demand Truth

SRINIVAS BALAGOPAL

STAFF WRITER

The advent of social media, retweeting bots, and big-data designed to uncover and analyze our demographics has made fake news the norm. Six media companies control 90 percent of what we read, and their revenue models are driven by gluing our eyeballs to headlines we agree with – something called “confirmation bias”, a tendency to search for or interpret information in a way that confirms one’s preconceptions.

Confirmation bias leads people to forgo fact checking. The evidence conforms to their beliefs, which keeps them coming back to a site or news station. That’s why liberals gravitate to MSNBC and conservatives to FOX News; both pander to the biases of their respective audience.

While the mainstream media should maintain some level of fact-based reporting and journalistic integrity, fake news websites are not under the same obligation. Under the First Amendment, the fake news sites can say whatever they want, and the scope and impact of them is tragic.

Per BuzzFeed’s analysis of Facebook engagements (shares, reactions, and comments), fake news sites had almost a million more engagements than mainstream sites during the election. It is believed that the Russian
government manipulated fake news during the election, while climate change deniers manipulate statistics to claim that global warming is manmade. And the prize – ka-ching. In 2015, the top 30 media companies generated almost $258 billion in revenue. Fake news publishers aim to confirm your bias in pursuit of influence and money. All you have to do is keep buying what they
are selling.

These companies’ power, wealth, and influence come from their consumers. It is up to us to demand that their ‘news’ is fact-checked before they tweet, post, or publish. Remember, these businesses are as addicted to us as we are to
them. It is time for us to demand the truth.

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