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Our dwindling faith in social networks

  • The abundance of fake news on social networks and Internet has protruded the importance of traditional media's watchdog role.

Sin Chew Daily

A Kantar TNS survey shows that despite the fact Malaysians on average spend about 7.2 hours on the Internet on any given day, only 17% of consumers trust the content on social media sites.

From a more macroscopic perspective, this reflects the reality that most Malaysians have reservation about messages on social networks.

This coincides with a similar report released by Edelman Trust Barometer last year which highlighted Malaysians' generally skeptical attitude towards information shared or uploaded on the social media, with trust levels ranging from 7% to 42%.

Although most people do not take all the information they have been fed with, fake news on social networks continue to have a negative impact on our society. This is a tough question our world has to come to terms with in the Internet age.

Indeed the Internet and social networks have brought unprecedented convenience in communication and dissemination of information, but our human society is not really prepared for the adverse effects that come with it.

As we are enjoying the tremendous convenience of the Internet and social networks, we are also facing the thorny issue of web abuse and abundance of misinformation.

We cannot deny that the rise of Internet and social networks has given us unprecedented freedom in expressing ourselves and disseminating useful information. However, due to lack of tight controls, such freedom has often been abused by irresponsible individuals for the purpose of spreading lies. Many have lost their faith in social media because of the difficulty to block fake news.

Currently we do not have a solution that can effectively stop the spread of misinformation on the Internet. Due to the increasing severity of this issue, search engines like Google and social networks like Facebook and Twitter have found themselves targets of public wrath for their failure to filter information such that fake news could get ia way to spread through them.

Facebook and Google have later responded and adopted some measures to check the spread of lies but with little success.

All kinds of fake news continue to inundate our cyberspace. For instance, social networks were exploited by irresponsible individuals to spread lies after the recent shocking mass killing in Las Vegas. At least 20 pieces of fake news associated with the Las Vegas killing have been detected on social networks.

The abundance of fake news on social networks and Internet has protruded the importance of traditional media's watchdog role.

Traditional media have had a stringent supervisory mechanism to filter information by way of verifying the sources in providing more reliable news and information to the reading public so that they will not lose their way in the midst of endless misinformation.


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