What should be done about “fake news”?
Wajeeha Ahmad develops recommendations to better align incentives and the environment that propagate fake news. There are three broad issues at the heart of the fake news phenomenon:
- Increasing microtargeting in political advertising
- The departure from editorial standards in the broadcasting of news on social media
- The potential for spreading disinformation at scale through means such as bot accounts impersonating humans, inauthentic accounts, and fake video content
- To compensate for the information asymmetry in microtargeting between advertisers and users of social media platforms, we recommend mandated disclosures for political campaign advertisers, disclosure requirements for all targeted advertisements and third-party applications gathering data for use in microtargeting, and platform design features that offer more diverse political ads and greater choice in viewing ads to users.
- In order to compensate for social media platforms’ departure from editorial standards in news broadcasting, we suggest creating incentives that reward social media publishers based on content quality, accuracy or depth instead of only engagement metrics, and offering tools for greater user control of their personalized news experiences.
- For tackling impersonation and disinformation at scale, we explore the possibilities of labelling bot-operated accounts, authenticating influential accounts and pages, and verifying fake video content.
Wajeeha is a researcher in MIT’s Internet Policy Research Initiative and student in MIT’s Technology and Public Policy Program.