*This is one in a series of "Hackathon" projects that Student Strategy Team members put together throughout the course of the 2016-2017 school year.
The Problem: Fake news--It’s hard to contain
The Solution: Bipartisan non profit organization run by researchers and analysts
Date: April 21, 2017
There is no greater threat to democracy than a misinformed electorate. Over the past several months, we have seen a rise in the circulation of extremely biased, inaccurate, or misleading news articles. Unfortunately, many people take these articles or short web videos to be completely true and the worst of it is, it is hard to contain. The more outrageous these news stories are, the more viral they seem to go. It is easy to share and like these posts on Facebook, which only spreads them to vast audiences and in the blink of an eye millions of people are reading unreliable news sources. As students about accurate news and can decipher between reliable and unreliable sources, we want others to be able to distinguish between real and fake news as well. The problem is that there is a fine line between identifying and warning people of misleading stories and crossing the border to censorship. We have to ask questions like should Facebook and other platforms step in to not allow “fake news” to be shared? But then, who determines what fake news? And how is fake news determined? People are more likely to recognize fake news from the other side than their own, and this only increases the hyperpolarization we see among the populous today. As a result, we propose the installation of a bipartisan, non-profit organization run my researchers and analysts from the fields of political science, international affairs and journalism. The mission of this organization is to launch a campaign via social media to educate the public on fake news, provide ratings on own website of major and contested news sites from both sides of aisle (e.g. New York Times, CNN, Fox News, Breitbart, Washington Post, National Review), and create a ranking of the most reliable news sources, rather than individual articles. The analysts would fact check the 10 most circulated articles/stories from each news distributor and would together give the site a “Fake News” and “Validity” rating out of 10. Employees would be picked for experience in analysis of data and previous involvement by two co-chairs (one conservative and one liberal) of the organization and confirmed by representatives of media outlets that want to participate. In theory, the organization would have equal numbers of Democrats and Conservatives.
The Student Strategy Team of Sam Granville, Megan Carey, Adam Bouyamourn, Ellie Goonetillake, and Ingrid Glitz de Assis were advised by Anna Palmer, Senior Washington Correspondent, Co-Author of Playbook, POLITICO, and GU Politics Spring 2017 Fellow.