As part of his ongoing tour of Europe, Apple CEO Tim Cook took out time for a Good Morning Britain interview, where he addressed the issue of fake news on the internet. Interestingly, he roped Apple into the picture, saying that companies like Apple should “filter part of it” before it gets to the public “without losing the great openness of the Internet.”
Calling fake news “one of today’s chief problems,” and “not something that has a simple solution,” Cook made his stance against fake news public amply clear.
But the obvious question is: why or how would Apple get into the “fake news filtering” business? Of course, there’s Apple news hovering in the background, but it’s hardly as big as Google News or even Facebook’s volume of news content that gets uploaded 24/7.
What impact could Apple possibly have on the problem of fake news? It’s possible that his comments hint at something Apple is actively working on for Apple News – some sort of filtering mechanism for users’ news feeds. The company already has a subscription model in place for top publishers, so it could be linked to that.
On the other hand, as I mentioned, Apple News is not nearly as large a platform as Facebook or Google. As such, the level of impact of whatever they’re planning, if anything, is likely to be quite low.
What it does highlight is the widespread nature of fake news and the negative impact it has on readers. One of the biggest reasons that Tim Cook is now jumping on the fake news bandwagon is because he feels that nobody has figured out what to do. Suggesting a solution, Cook said: “We need the modern version of a public-service announcement campaign. It can be done quickly if there is a will.”
The approach that Facebook is currently using – flagging content and then getting professional fact-checkers on the job – could work, but it is undeniably labor-intensive even though users collaborate on the process.
A “modern version of a public-service announcement” might not be the ideal solution to fake news on the Internet and on social media platforms, but Cook’s entry into the fake news fray is a sign that companies are finally being forced to pay attention to the problem and find a long-term solution.
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