Transforming the Internet into a Place of Trust
Let’s be real here. The internet can be a really great place. Small town businesses are given a platform. We can keep in touch with family and old friends. We can learn about subjects we’re unfamiliar with and express our opinions and ask our questions. But it can get dark. Like, corner of a dusty, cobwebbed storage unit in a seedy small town-dark. There’s bullying, there’s false information. There are people with pyramid schemes up their sleeves preying on the weak. How do we find a balance? How do we still allow ourselves to have an opinion on the internet, while also keeping those opinions in check? How do we transform the internet into a place of trust?
Let’s be clear—the internet should still allow for freedom of expression. We just need to stop spreading misleading content. Misinformation expert, Claire Wardle, just gave a poignant TED Talk on this very issue. She argues that there are three complex issues that have led to the dangerous internet experience we know today. For starters, there is so much content being put out, and it’s legal to do so. People have an emotional relationship to information, not a rational one, and we are allowed to voice our opinions. We also tend to give companies who are part of a wider information ecosystem—Facebook, Twitter, Google, Instagram, etc.—all the blame, when we perpetrate the crime.
Of course, this is no easy fix. We need to roll out a solution on a global scale. While global corporations should help, they shouldn’t take the lead. We as public consumers should. We need to follow a new infrastructure that supports the spread of accurate information. What if we started using a structure like Wikipedia that utilizes collective wisdom and experience? We could rely on people to provide insight regarding moderation and platform changes to cultivate a place that gains trust.
“there are three complex issues that have led to the dangerous internet experience we know today”
No one sector can solve this problem, but some are trying. You’ve probably seen a new feature on Facebook in the past few months in which a pop-up shows up under an article that contains false information. Sites are implementing fact-checking and building out indicators of credibility. The problem, Wardle points out, is that everyone is creating a different solution to the same problem. We’re already seeing positive changes being made, but we need to do something huge if we’re really going to make a difference. Could you imagine what would happen if we got all of these smart people in the same room to make these decisions together to create one cohesive solution that matches the scale of the problem?
What are your thoughts? Do you think we can make the internet a more trustful place?
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