How to eradicate fake news

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Today we’ll talk about fake news, and why inkl is the world's best hope for ending this scourge.

 If you've been following the fake news debate you'll know that it tends to focus on the role of social media. In one camp there are those who would like companies like Facebook to censor the news. In the other, there are those who think these companies have no business censoring the news. And sitting between this rock and hard place are the companies themselves, who say that their vast scale and the complexity of the problem is beyond the realms of solvability.

 At inkl we have a different take. We believe all of these groups are correct, in part. And that the problem of fake news is a structural incentive problem. As such, it requires a new structure and a new incentive to fix.

 The structural issue of fake news is that social media platforms were built to be open. This open structure was chosen so that anyone could create content (for free) and the platforms could grow more rapidly. But it also means that anyone can create a real or assumed identity and use these platforms to spew any nonsense they like.

The incentive issue is that these platforms are designed to create 'network effects'. Each user’s experience improves when they bring their own social network along to the platform. It was chosen because growth could be further accelerated this way, and it works by exploiting and amplifying emotional responses. In real life you would cross the street to avoid a raging lunatic who suddenly started screaming at you. But social media is designed to encourage you to shout back. 

And this is why the social-media fake-news debate is so fraught. It can't be solved simply by tweaking an algorithm or hiring a team of monitors. In order to fix fake news the platforms would have to fundamentally transform themselves into closed structures (which would impact their size). And they would need to rework incentives for sharing (which would impact user engagement). And their owner-shareholders would revolt against the resulting loss of revenue.

All of this means that trying to read news on social media is like trying to hammer a nail with a sponge. It's just not the right tool for the job. And that's why we created inkl. Readers need a safe place where you can learn about the world, without the negative influence of ad-based social networks. A place where our business model is perfectly aligned with your interests, and those of publishers. It's why we pay publishers for every single article that you or your friends read on inkl (including the ones you share). 

When readers pay for news, they create a stronger incentive to produce content that is worth buying. And as high-quality news grows, it becomes easier for everyone to identify and avoid low-quality or fake news. This is the central idea behind inkl’s plan to eradicate fake news. By accelerating the adoption of paid news we are building a new incentive and structure that will uproot fake news far more effectively than any debate about social media.

Inside inklGautam Mishra