Let’s mark Zuckerberg’s words

In today’s digital age, we are inundated with news from multiple sources. How reliable, then, are the news we choose to consume?

By Shawn Liew

As far as New Year’s resolutions are concerned, it is a lofty one. Mark Zuckerberg, chairman and CEO of Facebook, has vowed to ‘fix’ Facebook in the wake of a barrage of criticism that the social media platform has not done enough to curb the circulation of deliberate misinformation and disinformation.

Welcome to the age of ‘fake news’, where people arguably are struggling to judge the authenticity of news that they consume. To exacerbate the issue, the first source of news for many people today is — you guessed it — social media platforms such as Facebook.

While Zuckerberg’s declaration should perhaps be applauded, the fact remains that bias is likely to be a factor in social media feeds. Unfortunately, that is currently unavoidable — not when content is chosen by algorithms rather than human curation and moderation, and not when opinions can be formed by the circle of one’s social media contacts.

But wait just a minute. Whatever happened to the role that public service media had to play in being the number one source of trusted and reputable news? Contrary to what some might suggest, this is a position of strength which, to a large degree, has not been eroded.

Of course, it does not help when powerful and influential public figures wade into the waters and slam some of the most recognised and reputable news agencies as virulent carriers of fake news.

Thankfully, there is light at the end of the tunnel — and it promises to be dazzling. As long as public service media reinforces their commitment to truth and reality, and remain impartial to political or commercial influence, there is every opportunity for traditional news institutions to strengthen their positions as provider of trusted and reputable news.

The end-goal for any news institution should, therefore, be the creation of such a compelling brand recognition that before someone even reads a story, they accept its full credibility based purely on who is carrying the story.

Shawn Liew is managing editor of Asia-Pacific Broadcasting (APB), which has been monitoring the trends and technologies impacting the broadcast and media industry for the past 35 years.

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