Why the free world is losing the (mis)information battle
There is so much information on the internet that creating your own reality is easier than knowing what is real.
Trolls* are out there pumping out articles and sharing misinformation at a faster pace than our institutions can counter.
We are talking about volume here. If it takes 3 days to write a well researched article in a reputatable news outlet and 3 hours to spin out a half baked news concept that appeals to our human instincts, the shear volume of misinformation will quickly outgrow the volume of information.
Economics of conspiracies
Unfortunately, the above also means that it is simply much cheaper to produce content that is spreading harm. Not only is it cheaper to create, but on top of that though big news outlet have an audience and can charge money for their information, troll factories earn income on ads, and when a conspiracy theory goes viral, their income shoots up.
Increased economical and societal distress
With the rise of automation, low level workers are getting more and more replaceable. Unfortunately their craft is no longer needed and they fear for their economical safety.
At the same time, lower level of collaboration (less workers in factories and other workplaces, less face to face interactions for work in general) also mean more loneliness, fear of others and being more prone to divisive information.
The world is getting more connected each day. Information spread by a farmer in indonesia can instantly be consumed by the entire population of finland. In a more complex world with more connections, it is increasingly difficult to see the whole picture, let alone make any sense out of it.
While we evolved brains to live in small tribes, all of a sudden we are granted this infinite amount of connectivity.
Social platforms such as Facebook make it easy for conspiracy theories to go viral within clusters of social groups. Private groups on Whatsapp etc are even harder to deal with as misinformation is circulating fully unchecked. Once a disinformation campaign convinces a small number of individuals, they spread it like fire through untracked backchannels and with enough momentum the ball keeps rolling unchecked.
An issue of trust
States and institutions struggle with the same issues. With so many issues to take care of, so many stakeholders and complexities in management, they are unable to respond to the growing complexity of the system. As they start to let people down in showing a clear picture of the world, their trust erodes.
* Content creators who deliberately exploit the weaknesses of human nature or a specific Internet cluster. Being much more interested in how other people react to your edits than with the concepts.
Want to help out?
We don't see a clear solution, but let's build a group of conscious citizens who want to have an impact and let's see if we can think of technological and social solutions that might help.