When you wake up in the morning and read the news, or start consuming content, where’s the first place you turn? According to Pew Research Center, about 66 percent of adults who use Facebook on a regular basis get their news there primarily -- nd 40 percent of adults, in total, rely on Facebook as a primary source of news. If you don’t check Facebook as a primary source, you probably use Google searches to find news and content -- or at least to supplement your primary channel.
For the most part, search engines, social media sites, and news aggregation platforms have worked wonders for society. They make it faster and easier than ever to read new information -- mostly for free -- and have only grown in popularity over the years. However, they’ve also created a massive problem -- and one that isn’t easy to fix.
The Algorithm Problem
In traditional journalism, individual reporters with a history of integrity and years of experience work to find stories to report on, and a central editor, with even more years of experience, decides which stories to include and how to promote them.
But with modern high-tech algorithms, there’s no central editor. Instead, almost anyone in the world can create content whenever and however they want, and the top stories are decided on by an automated algorithm. These algorithms have gotten good at giving users more of the content they want to read, but their automated nature has led to a handful of issues:
Between these three items, users are presented with less accurate content, less quality content, and more content that keeps them exclusively thinking within their already-existing thought patterns. It’s created a content crisis that persists for users, content producers, and even the tech companies responsible for it.
Toward a Solution
Fortunately, high-tech brands are working hard to try and resolve this problem, between fake content checks and algorithm improvements designed to provide a more diverse range of content for users. But no matter what they do, the problem will likely persist in some way; after all, content is created for and consumed by people, and technology can’t protect us from ourselves.
The problem will likely improve over the next several years, but it’s unlikely to disappear entirely; until then, it’s on content creators and consumers to do their part in making the web a better place. You can start by doing your own fact-checking on dubious articles, avoiding sharing exploitative content, and producing only the best content you can.