Between January 1 and October 31 of this year, the fake news policies published in the United States exceeded 158 million visits on Facebook, which is equivalent to more than one "canard"by citizen with the right to vote. They are data from the latest study of the international activist organization Avaaz, which adds that the official pages of the Democratic Party and the Republican Party were seen three times less – they had 59 million visits – in that same period.
The figures confirm what other studies had already shown: fake news They spread faster than the truth. Specifically, they are 70% more likely to be reproduced, according to a recent study of MIT.
The data collected in Spain are not encouraging either. The I Study on the impact of fake news in Spain revealed that 60% of respondents believed they knew how to detect false news, when in reality only 14% knew how to differentiate it.
What to do in this situation that can have serious consequences? For Hervé Falciani, the systems engineer known for his role in the Swissleaks scandal, and one of the assistants to the 'Leaders' debate cycle, organized by the UOC on the 12th in Seville, a possible solution would be the creation of "a national commission on access to information, which would regulate and protect the right to information, avoiding monopolies within the dissemination channels. "
It would be a body similar to the National Commission for Markets and Competition, but in the internet sphere. "Through it, platforms such as Facebook could be prevented from saturating a given population with the same propaganda, with the intention of making a candidate vote or to influence not going to vote and thus win another" , he explains referring to the Cambridge Analytica case.
The number of false or decontextualized news continues to grow. Misinformations are undisputed protagonists of daily news, especially in times of elections. But they also increase progressively, year after year. This is revealed by The Global Disinformation Order: 2019 Global Inventory of Organized Social Media Manipulation, prepared by the Oxford Internet Institute, which ensures that disinformation campaigns have increased in recent years, so that if in 2018 they were registered in 48 countries, this year already affect 70.
In reality, false rumors or hoaxes are as old as the history of society. The novelty is that the internet has changed the rules of the game. And in the opinion of Pablo Lara, professor of the Information and Communication Sciences Studies of the UOC and also assistant to the debate 'Leaders', part of the success of the fake news viralization is that the messages reach the right people
"With the entry of the internet and new concepts that we did not handle in the past, communication patterns have changed," explains Lara. "Until now there was a transmitter, a receiver and the channel, which was neutral. But now the channel arbitrates, and that can have a series of impacts. Thanks to the algorithmic you can receive recommendations for content that resembles the one you are working on in networks, so the false news finds patterns of people who can consume it, which is what matters because it is the traffic that keeps these platforms alive, "says Pablo Lara.
Internet is one of the reasons that explain that misinformation, half-truths or fake news spread so quickly. But there are also other factors that contribute to the success of these messages, and that reinforces the beliefs of a high percentage of recipients.
"The high impact is explained because these messages help to tell the truth in which one believes in an easy and comfortable way," explains the UOC professor. "If I argue that sugar is bad and I get a message with an image of some mice that have died from being crammed with sugar, my reaction will be: Have you seen? Sugar is bad. The message, whether true or not, we he gives the reason in a non-critical way, especially if it is accompanied by an image. Then, the receiver can say: I don't say it, this picture says it.
The debate of the 'Leaders' cycle of the 12th will address these issues together with others, such as how disinformation affects us not only as recipients, but also when it is we who are part of the message, for example through an image, or the importance of knowing what to communicate in each moment and how to use technology for it in the new leadership.