In the last two years the subject of Fake News has become more and more important. Today everybody uses this word. Whatever information we don’t like or we don’t agree with, we call it fake news. I don’t deny, there are a lot of false statements and false ideas, but there is also a lot of people who call Fake News every time without proving it. And this is a far bigger problem than we would like to believe.
In order to fight Fake News we have to first define it. Today, we use this word so often that it has started to loose it’s meaning. Let me get one thing straight, not everything is Fake News. If I say something like the global temperature of the earth is not rising, then yes, this is fake news, because you can test that and see that it is in fact rising. But if I say that in my opinion humans are not responsible for global warming, you have no right to call it fake news. Because I am allowed to believe whatever I want and have as little or as many arguments as I like. You cannot deny reality, and if you do that then yes, it is fake news. But you are allowed to interpret reality and to analyze it and make assumptions about it, and that can’t and shouldn’t be called fake news.
If I say something I believe nobody can accuse me of spreading fake news, because if I believe what I say, than for me, it’s not fake. And we should never try to equate somebody’s beliefs with actual information, because that is very dangerous. The facts are the facts and reality is the same for all of us, but the way in which we interpret those facts and that reality is what makes us unique. I can consider the Mona Lisa to be a piece of shit and I can write that on the top of a newspaper… It’s not fake news, it’s just an opinion!
And going beyond the content, there is another problem in this “crusade” against fake news. We are walking a very fine line between protecting society from lies and challenging the right to free speech. People are allowed to believe anything and the government should not try to suppress that freedom. There are hundreds of thousands of people that believe the earth is flat. Is that false? Yes, definitely… But is it fake news that should be prohibited from social networks? No, because those people are free to believe what they want.
We have to shift the focus, and make the people responsible for combating fake news. Instead of obsessing about what sites and accounts we have to ban in order to stop the spread of fake news, let us instead focus on teaching people to be more selective and to check information from multiple sources. It is not the fault of the one that asks for it, it is always the fault of the one who is willing to pay the price. If people believe false claims, the fault lies with them. Today, in the age of information, we all have access to an infinite amount of sources, so if we decide to trust the first one and it turns out to be fake, we have only ourselves to blame.
Stop crusading against fake news and instead crusade against stupidity and complacency. Trust me, we have far more to gain from that!