We read or consume news every day. Be it physical or through our mobile phone via news applications or social media recommendations feed. Something to think about is that we are seeing the content that everyone sees. Or are we seeing what we would like to see?
It has been known that social media feed manipulates a person’s behavior. Not only their behavior but also opinions and thoughts about things that they follow or believe in. We know that the authors of these news articles are often associated with a slight bias toward their readers. Be it a political or religious bias. The problem is, there is no transparency from the news websites on who the news is for. We read it, we consume it, and we form our own opinions about things but are we reading it for the sake of keeping ourselves updated with the current world, or are we reading it because it’s trending?
Trust In the System
In the earlier days, we knew the publication and we could trust the news that was shown to us. While we have online versions of the same news platforms, they are incorporated with recommendation engines that understand users’ behavior and adapt to their likings. This is helpful to improve user engagement on the news platform, but the problem is, these news platforms often “trap” users in their eco system. The users consuming these news articles will not know that they are being affected. They like the engagement and often these adrenaline-driven articles keep them entertained. This raises ethical issues regarding the usage of news or social media platforms to pursue users into thinking in a certain direction. For example, a large government organization could own a piece of the news company and could churn out stories praising themselves. This leads to people believing the political party or the government is doing a fantastic job whereas often they do not. This poses serious trust issues with the media, especially with the government.
One way to solve this is to provide transparency in the news article published. Inform the user about the political bias or religious bias or the views and opinions of the author or the news company that published the article in the first place. Also, as an added weight, people could crowdsource, upvote, or provide explicit feedback and decide the validity of the news article. However, a certain group of people might still manipulate these metrics by owning the voting rights of the news platform. Something to think about is a decentralized news system with transparency. Although, the design of such a system could be controversial as it might take a long time for people to understand the system itself, let alone support it.