Why are lies spread on social media? And what can we do ?
Fundamentally the lies (fake news) are transmitted on social networks because many people comment on them, and many others continue with their comments, and in a very short time a lie that if no one had commented on would have passed into oblivion, ends up becoming something viral that many comment.
It is something as simple as this, and to that we must add to the business model of social networks in “promoting” that users share information (whether it’s true or not) with others to stay within the ecosystem of the APP.
Everything is designed so that people stay in the APP as long as possible, no matter what they say or share. In this way, the APP obtains more information about all the connections between users and can sell more data from all of them, in order to achieve greater benefits.
The question that arises is: what to do against lies on social media?
And I have read a reflection by Ton Buchanan in The Conversation that I found very interesting. His proposal is very simple: do nothing.
And on second thought I think he is quite right. Since any comment we make, even to refute the lie will generate other subsequent comments and will make that news more relevant. Just what social media wants.
If when we see something manifestly uncertain or harmful we limit ourselves to not commenting on it, we are burying it in oblivion, and it is the best we can do.
There are too many people interested in promoting lies and misinformation all around the world, and we must not fall into the trap of refuting them. In Spanish there is a very old saying that says: There is no greater contempt than not paying any attention.
Well, let’s put it into practice.
If we also one day get our governments to force social networks to control the veracity of what is published in them (as is the case with newspapers), we will end up winning the game of institutionalized disinformation that does so much damage to our society.