# Elections and democracy in post-truth era.
Elections and democracy in post-truth era.
The problem of fake news is not a new one, but it has recently become more prominent in the public eye. The main issue here is that many people do not know how to discern between true and false information. While this is a general problem among the population at large, it is even more problematic for the youth who are growing up in this digital age, and may never learn the skill of checking sources or questioning what they find on the internet. For example, one study has shown that many college students do not have the skills to distinguish between real and fake information found online. The problem is only going to get worse as advances in artificial intelligence make it increasingly easier to create false video and audio footage. This could lead to a "post-truth" society in which facts hold little value and opinions are taken at equal value regardless of their truthfulness.
There are many reasons why this is a dangerous trend. The main one is that an inability to discern between true and false information can have dire consequences in the political realm. If the population cannot agree on a common set of facts, it will be difficult or impossible to have meaningful political discourse on any issue. People will just be shouting opinions at each other with no hope of reaching consensus on any topic. This has already been seen to some extent in the political climate in the United States. The 2016 presidential election, in particular, has shown that many people are willing to accept information even when it has been widely debunked. This is a trend that needs to be reverse if American democracy is to survive.
Survival of speech
In order to combat this trend, there has been a growing call for social media companies to do something about the problem of fake news on their platforms. One suggestion is for these companies to impose stricter policies on what users can post. Another suggestion is for these companies to take a more active role in fact-checking user content. While some people may see this as an infringement on freedom of speech, it is important to remember that these companies already have full control over all content that is posted on their platforms. For example, on Facebook it is against the rules to post pornographic images. While some people may think that this infringes on their freedom of speech, no one would argue that Facebook should not have such a rule in place. If a person wants to post pornographic images, they can go elsewhere on the internet. The same can be said for any restrictions that social media companies may put in place to limit fake news. If people really want to get their fake news out there, they will always be able to do it elsewhere.
Arbiters of truth
The other suggestion is for social media companies to take a more active role in censoring user content. This suggestion raises a number of ethical issues. The main issue is that it gives these companies way too much power over public discourse. Even if these companies were to apply these changes in an even-handed manner, we should still be concerned about the possibility that they might change their policies in the future. Once a company like Facebook has this kind of power, it rarely relinquishes it.
Another major concern is that these changes would make social media companies into "arbiters of truth." Much like politicians are supposed to be guardians of the truth in a democracy, social media companies would have the final say over what counts as true information and what doesn't. This could have the effect of scaring away users who would rather not have to deal with the possibility of censorship. It could also have a chilling effect on free speech in general. People might start to hold back on sharing certain opinions if they think it might get censored.
Finally, these changes would also give social media companies a lot more power and this kind of power would be very tempting for them to abuse. Even if these companies started out with the best of intentions, over time they might start to abuse their power for their own gain. This is a common problem with any large institution and it is not like the people in charge are saints. For example, the former chief of Facebook, Sean Parker, recently admitted that he believes the website to be "ripping apart the social fabric of how society works." He also admitted that he feels "tremendous guilt" over his role in creating the website.
While there are no easy answers to the problem of fake news, it is important that we do not make the situation worse. Unfortunately, I believe that imposing more restrictions on the flow of information would do just that. Instead of censoring ourselves, I believe that we as a society need to take more responsibility for determining what is true and what is not. This does not just mean relying on a few fact-checking organizations like Snopes. It means that as individuals we need to do our own research and come to our own conclusions.
It is easy to get deceived by fake news because it plays on our emotions. We want to believe in things that make us feel good about ourselves and our beliefs. We want to support the side of "good" against the side of "evil." This is why it is so important to base our opinions on objective facts. Opinions need to be based on reality, not wishful thinking.
In the meantime, I believe that we should all do our best to vote responsibly this election season. While it is easy to get distracted by the latest "scandal" or piece of fake news, we owe it to ourselves and our country to make informed decisions. We should not let ourselves be manipulated by the people who profit from chaos and division.
We also need to be careful about the kind of media that we take in. Even if it is coming from a "trusted" source, we need to question where that information is coming from and whether or not it can be confirmed. We live in a world where anyone can put out "news" and we as consumers need to be more skeptical.
Finally, I urge you all to do your own research on the candidates and make up your own mind. Opinions are like belly buttons, we all have them and they are all equally disgusting. So whether you are a Democrat, Republican, Socialist, whatever; I encourage you to research the candidates and make an informed decision.
And please, do not just vote based on some ridiculous "lesser of two evils" logic. There are good and bad things about both candidates, just like there are good and bad things about both bacon and broccoli. One is not "evil" and the other "good," they are just different. So before you vote, do your homework and decide what is best.
And with that, I will end this on a quote from the late, great Carl Sagan, "The suppression of uncomfortable ideas may be common in religion or in politics, but it is not the path to knowledge."