Tech Needs to Launch a Counterattack and Fake News is ‘Killing People’s Minds’, says Apple CEO Tim Cook

The problem of fake news prevails in the U.S. even though the presidential election is over. And it’s time to do something about it, Apple CEO Tim Cook said.

“All of us technology companies need to create some tools that help diminish the volume of fake news,” Cook said in an interview with the Daily Telegraph very recently..

“There has to be a massive campaign. We have to think through every demographic,” Cook said.

Earlier this month it was Trump’s own not-official spokesperson Kellyanne Conway who shared news of a “Bowling Green massacre” that never happened, even though most of the discussion around fake news has centered on fabricated stories and headlines that surface on websites and spread like wildfire through Facebook.

And as Conway attempted to defend Trump’s immigration and refugee travel ban on individuals from seven majority-Muslim countries, she said the made-up event was orchestrated by two Iraqi refugees.

23 percent of Americans believed the made-up story enough to think it justified Trump’s travel ban as found in a recent poll from Public Policy Polling, even though Conway’s false narrative was quickly debunked by Twitter. If the fake news was justification enough for the immigration executive order could not be said for sure by twenty percent of the respondents.

The proliferation of fake news is “killing people’s minds”, Tim Cook says.

It has been proven difficult for online readers to differentiate between fact-checked news and stories that are written to deceive.

Pizzagate is an example. It is a story that linked Hillary Clinton to a child sex ring, which was false, but it went viral on Facebook late last year. The story had falsely claimed that that the racket was run out of pizzeria in Washington D.C. Nearly half of Trump voters thought Pizzagate was true, or at least could be true, found another poll conducted by PPP at that time.

“We are going through this period of time right here where unfortunately some of the people that are winning are the people that spend their time trying to get the most clicks, not tell the most truth,” Cook said in the interview.

Another example straight-up spouting falsehoods on national news is the case of Kellyanne Conway.

Facebook, where in recent months fabricated stories have become wildly popular, was at the centre of much of the fake news controversy. To allow users to flag stories that are potentially fake, to be reviewed by fact-checkers, the social media giant rolled out new filtering tools in Germany for users in January.

However despite that step, even wider action was called for by Cook. “Too many of us are just in the complain category right now and haven’t figured out what to do,” he said. “We need the modern version of a public-service announcement campaign. It can be done quickly if there is a will”, he says.

Apple, which is on the move to start making its own TV and movies, would also be asked questions about their standing and position on fake news very soon.

(Adapted from CNBC)

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