Where did you first learn about Amazon’s crazy plan to deliver packages via drone? “60 Minutes”? The New York Times? Increasingly, the answer is likely to be Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo, and that’s just how the online giants like it.
Those companies aren’t news providers in any traditional sense, but they’re trying harder to become the go-to place where their users learn about current events. It opens up new streams of revenue for the companies, but some experts wonder what it will mean for how we consume news.
”Facebook’s algorithms don’t spring out of nowhere,” said Jeremy Gilbert, who teaches media product design at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. “Why does Google favor one source over another?”
They are not necessarily malevolent forces, but Internet companies’ power to influence what citizens read and see—and what they don’t—is becoming greater.
An education problem – when now even many teachers don’t understand why Wikipedia isn’t the same as a credible source, when Encyclopedia Britannica has almost as many errors, and the mainstream news sources have cut back on reporters in favor of more reliance on press releases, unsourced stories, and even outright op-ed masquerading as news….do we even have any such thing as a credible source?
The problem is that access to reliable information is necessary to a functioning civilization – it is necessary for economic growth, for political well-being, and for social cohesion.