Disruptive truths and lies

After almost becoming omnipresent in the life of about 1,8 billion of people, Facebook confronts the need to become more and more omniscient as well. The company has recently announced measures to reduce the scope of the false information disseminated through its net – news that could have influenced the world’s destiny, such as that which pointed Pope Francisco supporting the then candidate Donald Trump, which would have helped him to conquer the presidency of the United States. Among others measures, Facebook will use the services of external agencies to check the veracity of the stories posted. If they are found to be false, the news will not be removed from the network but will display a label with the appropriate classification.

The idea is to control the problem without curtailing people’s freedom of expression, but also without harming business – which survives by pumping the flow of news to keep users hanging on the network for an average of 50 minutes per day. The background check service, for now, is only available on an experimental basis, in the United States.

It’s an extremely important and difficult to resolve issue. It brings to light the problem of society’s vulnerability, which seems to grow as a result of the technological advances and the success of global companies. Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, Messenger, Uber, Waze, mobile telephony, clouds, big data, electronic commerce, digital ways of payment etc. make up the family of systems, applications, networks, and platforms which have redesigned our lifestyle. They are the carriers of disruptive innovations that have made our everyday easier, but also which we have become dependent on. Then we need supervisors to mitigate risks. But, who will inspect the supervisors?

The classification system puts us on this and other paradoxes. One of the agencies accredited by Facebook, Lupa, uses seven tags to sort the news. Between the “true” (“the information is proven to be correct”) and the “false” (“demonstrably incorrect”) tags, there are other labels such as “it’s too early to tell”, which means “the information may prove to be true. It is not yet”. Another label is “exaggerated” used when “The information is on the right path, but there was an exaggeration “. The endeavor to try and classify data in the net is so ambitious that it is on the verge of fiction. In addition, it brings in tow the danger of manipulation of the truth in the name of combating the lie. One of the short-term results will be the valuation of the traditional sources of information, news periodicals and services.

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