Billions of dollars have been reallocated from creators of content to owners of monopoly platforms. We are going to have to decide fairly soon whether Google, Facebook and Amazon are the kinds of natural monopolies that need to be regulated, or whether we allow the status quo to continue, pretending that unfettered monoliths don’t inflict damage on our privacy and democracy.
Google has rolled out a Fact Check feature to combat fake news. If a Google Search query has been checked by a credible source, then it will display a link to that source along with the words “fact check” on its results page.This is Google’s first attempt at tackling the problem through changes to its search algorithm. Last year, the company changed policies for its AdSense platform to ban fake news publishers.
“Once formed,” the researchers observed dryly, “impressions are remarkably perseverant.” Even after the evidence “for their beliefs has been totally refuted, people fail to make appropriate revisions in those beliefs.” Humans’ biggest advantage over other species is our ability to coöperate. Habits of mind that seem weird or goofy or just plain dumb from an “intellectualist” point of view prove shrewd when seen from a social “interactionist” perspective. If reason is designed to generate sound judgments, then it’s hard to conceive of a more serious design flaw than confirmation bias. Almost invariably, the positions we’re blind about are our own.
On the surface this looked like a classic case of fake news – a scandalous and highly shareable story, incorporating official-looking materials and sourcing, yet with no other mainstream outlet even mentioning the story. In the counter-intelligence world, this is what is known as a “wilderness of mirrors” – creating a chaotic information environment that so perfectly blends truth, half-truth and fiction that even the best can no longer tell what’s real and what’s not.
Researchers at Google are developing a new system to rank search results based on the number of facts a website contains, rather than the number of incoming links. Under the new system described by Google researchers, those results will be based on a truth score given to each website called “Knowledge-Based Trust,” which ranks a website lower in search results based on the number of incorrect facts counted on the site.