Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook became the latest tech personality to speak out against fake news, saying in an interview that it is “killing minds,” and that tech firms should be more vigilant in cracking down on such reports.
The whole “fake news” controversy truly heated up in the aftermath of the 2016 U.S. presidential elections, as many had credited Donald Trump’s win to a host of bogus news stories shared on Facebook. Reacting to these allegations, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg released a statement via his official account a few days after the elections, stating that almost all content shared on his social network is legitimate, while generally seeking to clear the air on the matter.
“Of all the content on Facebook, more than 99 percent of what people see is authentic. Only a very small amount is fake news and hoaxes. The hoaxes that do exist are not limited to one partisan view, or even to politics. Overall, this makes it extremely unlikely hoaxes changed the outcome of this election in one direction or the other.
“That said, we don’t want any hoaxes on Facebook. Our goal is to show people the content they will find most meaningful, and people want accurate news.”
Zuckerberg added that Facebook “launched work” that would allow users to flag hoax articles, and that the company had “made progress” to this end at the time of his statement.
— Ahmad Ahmadi (@droit201077) February 11, 2017
Despite Facebook and other companies’ efforts to crack down on fake news, these phony reports remain commonplace on the internet, with a lot of the publications proliferating these reports impersonating legitimate sites with a similar-sounding URL, but further giving themselves away with amateurish site layouts. Now, another mover and shaker from the world of tech has spoken, and he’s just as upset with fake news and its potential effect on readers.
Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Apple CEO Tim Cook talked about fake news and the dangerous effect it may have on the people who read these articles. He called the spate of phony news reports a “big problem in a lot of the world,” and suggested that government authorities and tech companies do their part in cracking down on these articles.
“It has to be ingrained in the schools, it has to be ingrained in the public. There has to be a massive campaign. We have to think through every demographic. We need the modern version of a public-service announcement campaign. It can be done quickly if there is a will.”
Cook shared to the Daily Telegraph some keen observations on fake news, and the people and companies that spread these reports. According to the Apple CEO, society is at a time when some of the most-viewed publications on the internet are those that are after earning the most clicks, rather than telling the truth in their journalism. This trend, he added, is “killing people’s minds in a way.”
In addition, Tim Cook noted that current fake news crackdowns from tech companies may not be enough. He believes that additional efforts are needed to promote the spread of high-quality news and eliminate clickbait and sensationalism.
“All of us technology companies need to create some tools that help diminish the volume of fake news. We must try to squeeze this without stepping on freedom of speech and of the press, but we must also help the reader. Too many of us are just in the ‘complain’ category right now and haven’t figured out what to do.”
Although younger internet users may be particularly vulnerable to fake news reports and believing everything that they read, Tim Cook sees these “digital kids” as the easiest to warn about fake news and its dangers. He also believes that before children reach a specific age, they are more likely to listen and understand, and motivate their parents to do certain things.
[Featured Image by Stephen Lam/Getty Images]