There are several areas which need to be addressed to ensure a reduction in Fake News. However, policymakers have some difficulties with this.
Firstly, when does authenticity-checking become censorship or propaganda. This is by far the most difficult area for policymakers to deal with. Democratic governments need to be trusted by their populations. If society feels that policymakers are using their powers to censor legitimate conversation, debate or news delivery, then the trust that the population places in its policymakers will be eroded.
Secondly is the issue of content creation. Prior to the rise of social media, most traditional media only published articles which had been through a strict editorial check. Although this does not prevent organisations from publishing Fake News, the fact that every article – written, audio or video – has been checked against editorial guidelines means that it is possible to attribute corporate ownership to the content distributed. For social media, this is not the case. Where social media channels have millions of messages sent each day, it is not possible for these to be checked for meeting the channels guidelines in all cases. Most social media channels rely on users reporting inappropriate content, and even then, this system is flawed.
Certainly, social media providers have strongly resisted any push from governments and policymakers to state that they are publishers and must be liable for all content on their platforms. With social media technology being new platforms, governments and providers need to work together to resolve this issue in a timely manner. Unfortunately, there is little reason for social media networks to address this issue promptly; as any private corporation, their concerns are – quite correctly – about return on shareholder/investor investment.
Thirdly, there is the troubling issue of how to accurately define the term Fake News. With the term defined loosely or incorrectly, many legitimate articles and messages could be removed. This is separate – but linked – to the issues of censorship highlighted above.
Other areas of concern include marginalising communities, what sanctions should be placed on publishers or content creators, the use of technology to manage solutions, the issues around mass population education on how to identify fake news, what happens when policymakers create or spread Fake News, and many other areas.