In recent times we have been flooded by all kinds of “fake” things. Fake news, fake twitter accounts, fake adverts, fake science and now fake murder! What on earth is going on.
This “fake culture”, if I can call it that, is a consequence of the global digitalisation of information which gives people freedom to spread anything they like through the web. There will always be people who struggle to separate lies from truth and, let’s not be naïve, that was a fact long before the internet was invented. But the thing is that these lies are now so easily spread, just a couple of clicks and you can reach millions or even billions of people around the globe.
When I grew up and went to school it was important to learn the facts, but we were also encouraged to challenge and question what we read and watched, e.g. from books, the press, TV, politicians, influencers etc. When my kids went to school in the ‘90s, the digital era was truly dawning and suddenly the focus shifted – no longer was it just about books and newspapers - they learned things by interacting and engaging with information through a computer. Data and facts were presented and accessed in a whole different way as a result of the internet.
Search engines changed the world. Any focus on authenticating data was lost – though there has been a collective push recently to bring greater regulations - it became too easy to believe what was written on the net, especially if the same information came from several different (apparently reputable) sources. So today, when people read information which comes through these ‘sources’ they believe it is the truth. As we all know it is now too easy to create the platforms for spreading this fake news, leading to issues which most notably affected the US presidential election and resulted in the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
The big issue for me is that this behaviour is now viewed as normal. I mean just how many fake stories are out there? Does anyone know? Nowadays, who can you really trust?
Hans Möller is Director of Edinburgh BioQuarter