Why fake news is a tech problem

News used to be reliable.

While “fake news” has always existed, we enjoyed a halcyon period in the second half of the 20th Century where the news media in industrial democracies produced a reliable, shared reality. People disagreed, but their opinions were mostly based on credible facts produced by solid journalism standards, fact-checking and editorial integrity.

Then the web arrived, followed by the social web. Now, instead of three reputable news sources, you hear facts and ideas from thousands of sources of varying reliability. These appear before your eyeballs by invisible means — by the compatibility of the content with the secret algorithms used to determine what spreads widely — and what doesn’t.

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