Ms Joanna Weiss, editor-in-chief of Experience, an award-winning national magazine in the U. S. has identified fake news as a big threat to election credibility.
Weiss said this while fielding questions from journalists selected by the U.S. Department of State – Bureau of Global Public Affairs to cover the 2020 U.S. election.
Responding to a question by a journalist at a webinar on the level of threat fake news in campaign adverts posed to election credibility, this is what Weiss has to say:
“That is a great question and the answer is, I think it is a pretty big threat; that was a big concern coming out in 2016; again, it is hard to know for sure how many people saw adverts that had fake information and acted on it.
“But there were certainly a large number of adverts out there and in very rare cases, they prompted people to take some action.
“There was a story right after the 2016 election or around that time where a voter had heard a rumour online about something that Hillary Clinton had allegedly done at a restaurant in the Washington area.
“He actually went to that restaurant, trying to stop this thing that was not even happening; so in some rare cases people really have demonstrated that they believe this fake information.”
Weiss, who is also a contributing editor to the Politico Magazine, said there is little or nothing managers of social media platforms could do about regulating fake news.
She said that the volume of adverts and information going out at the same time is overwhelming and the operators are finding it difficult to fact-check all.
“The social media platforms have had a very difficult time deciding what to do about it and how to stop it.
“They have to some degree, fixed some fact-checking apparatus’s on staff but the volume of advertising is very hard to keep up with.
“Sometimes they try to use artificial intelligence and algorithms to identify things that might be fake information but there are a lot of things that fall through the cracks or ways to gain that system.
“So, it is very difficult for these social media platforms to stay on top of misinformation which is I think part of the reason why they have reluctantly decided to just shut down advertising at a certain point,” she said.
She encouraged users of social media in the United States to take every advertisement with a grain of salt.
Weiss urged individuals to investigate information to confirm is it is true or false before taking action.