December 26, 2016

To those who argued Geocentrism, Heliocentrism would have represented fake news.

Sir, Timothy Garton Ash writes: “The real challenge for the craft and business of journalism is to bring those facts to people who have fallen prey to emotionally appealing populist narratives — and may not even be interested in learning the boring truth.” “What to do when the truth is found to be lies” December 24.

Indeed, Garton Ash is right, but let us not forget that quite often there are also those very interested in that the truth is not learned.

For instance in apportioning the blame for the 2007-08 crisis, how much has been laid on bankers and how much on regulators, 95% - 5%? What would then happen to a post that argues, as I truthfully do, that regulators, by setting up irresistible temptations, were more to blame than bankers? Would it be banned as fake-news? Of course you could argue that is an opinion, not news, but the frontier between these is not that clear.

Sir, trying to sort between truth and falsehood, puts us on a slippery road, but must of course anyhow be tried. One possibility would be to ask social media to refrain from linking to any news not signed by a real person; or to any site that specializes in obvious scandalous news. But to ask much more from social media would be naïve, since these derive a lot of their income precisely from generating ad-clicks. I mean just as naïve as when bank regulators allowed banks to calculated their own risk-weighted capital requirements.