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Fighting 'Fake News' Requires Fighting False Claims Not Banning News Outlets

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Peter Williams
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Not a day has gone by this year without some news outlet or academic expert promoting the same sure-fire solution to the fake news epidemic: just ban all the bad news outlets and problem solved!

While these outlet-level "fake news" labels make for great memes and fun-looking visuals and lend themselves readily to simple technological solutions block all articles from the list of bad domains , they do an intellectual disservice to the concept of false and misleading information and in fact only serve to help the spread of fake news rather than prevent it.

Every day governments, companies, non-profits, news outlets and other organizations knowingly or unknowingly publish reams of false or misleading information, often buried in the midst of otherwise correct material, much of which is scooped up and happily republished by the press and spreads virally through social media.

Even when combining both categories, this narrow definition of fake news constitutes just a minuscule fraction of the false and misleading statements that are published every day around the world.

This is made even more difficult when it comes to official government publications or companies willfully and knowingly publishing false or misleading information in an attempt to sway public opinion.

Thus, it is clear that simply blacklisting a collection of websites will do precious little to stem the flow of false and misleading information that barrages the global public each day, since much of that information is buried among real reporting.

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Peter Williams
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