Pew Research Center Study Examines Current Challenges With Misinformation And The Truth Online

Times have definitely changed from the old traditional media to today’s new, and diverse digital media ecosystem. Because of the digitalization of news media, misinformation and false reports have become widespread. The latest study published by the Pew Research Center and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center explored the oncoming challenges to the future of truth and misinformation online.

The title of this robust report is “The Future of Truth and Misinformation Online.” The analysis collected came from a large crowd of people who are technologists, scholars, practitioners, strategic thinkers, and others. The issue was presented and framed for participants to react to the following statement.

“The rise of ‘fake news’ and the proliferation of doctored narratives that are spread by humans and bots online are challenging publishers and platforms. Those trying to stop the spread of false information are working to design technical and human systems that can weed it out and minimize the ways in which bots and other schemes spread lies and misinformation.”

Subsequently, upon reacting to the above claim, the question that follows pondered what happens a decade from now. Will there be trusted methods that emerge to block false narratives and allow the most accurate information to prevail? On the other hand, the presented question asked: “Will the quality and veracity of information online deteriorate due to the spread of unreliable, sometimes even dangerous or socially destabilizing ideas?”

[Image By Georgejmclittle/Shutterstock]

Once framed, presented and asked the question, respondents had to choose between two answers. One was the information environment will improve, or the information will not improve in the next 10 years. A total of 1,116 participants responded and the results were narrow between those who believed it will improve (49 percent) and those who thought the information environment will not (51 percent) get better. In addition, there were reasons provided as to why they made their respective choices. Those who perceived the media environment will not improve cited the following reasons.

  • “The fake news ecosystem preys on some of our deepest human instincts.”
  • “Our brains are not wired to content with the pace of technological change.”

Those who expect the situation to better cited these reasons.

  • “Technology can help fix these problems.”
  • “It is also human nature to come together and fix problems.”
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From the majority of those surveyed, some of the respondents detailed elaborations behind their views. From the above tweet, we can identify other major themes that justified those who perceived improvement or no improvement of the media environment.

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A recent report from the Nieman Lab examined the introduction of a bill to make internet companies reveal who is paying for the ads. The legislative project is known as The Honest Ads Act, which aims to increase the transparency of online political ads by obligating companies to disclose who is the source behind the ads purchased. The motto cannot be advertising revenues first, and instead, deliver the truth in the interest of the public beyond the bottom line.

[Featured Image by Hafakot/Shutterstock]