A reoccurring theme lately is truth in media. There has been a storm brewing about intentionally false news stories being circulated to promote certain agendas. I was trying to figure out where I would put the blame, and then I quickly realized I want to smear it all over everyone because everybody is at fault for this phenomenon.
My initial impulse was to assign most of the guilt to the person or entity that created and circulated the false news. That makes sense, right? They are the only one doing wrong here, as they tainted the world with their dark lies and forced us all to believe them… right?
Well not so fast. Although I would happily label them as guilty, I asked myself – is there any difference in culpability for someone who knowingly circulates false news and someone who mistakenly circulates false news? I get that there is a degree of maliciousness to spreading fake news on purpose, but as far as consequences of actions, but intentional and unintentional spreading causes the same amount of damage.
So even though the maliciousness is worse, there is a still a level of responsibility for the person sharing the content to check if they are producing misinformation. Therefore, they are both to blame.
But if we place blame for someone unintentionally creating a false news article, how is that any different from someone reading a believing a false news article? They both failed to take the necessary steps to ensure the information is true before they accepted it. In that way, I think anyone who accepts a false story as true without doing the work to fact-check it is also guilty and deserving of blame.
After coming to that conclusion, however, I realized that if everyone should be expected to check the validity of every news article they read because of a proliferation of false news, what news source do they fact-check it against? If you are obligated to fact-check the news you assimilate, what could you possibly reliably check it against?
My final conclusion? Don’t read the news. You can’t handle the news.