- April 02, 2020
False media, we don't need it…
— Chuck D
Through the miracles of the early internet, I discovered the Weekly World News while I was in high school. Journalism never was the same to me again. Why read about the horrors of acid rain, and the hole in the ozone layer, when there was a newspaper that covered sightings of Marilyn Monroe and Bat Boy instead?
Obviously, my own journalistic endeavors had to follow suit. Being the editor-in-chief of the school newspaper, I started to take inspiration from my newly discovered favorite news source. Why stick to the bare facts when they can be infused with all the wonderful rumors and anecdotes that are floating around? Isn't good fiction worth more than the boring truth?
My piece de resistance: a Dear Mary item that featured letters from the teaching staff. Our Mary — named Hans — gave the English teacher some much needed tough love about his financial problems, but was also warm and understanding when the Gym teacher opened up about his sexual frustrations. Generoso Pope Jr. would have been proud.
Alas, the dean was of a different opinion. After two marvelous issues, I was forcefully removed from my post.
Although I was clearly not amused by his actions at the time, in retrospect, I would argue that the dean handled the problem of fake news in an exemplary manner. The key to his success: his actions were not focused on the news itself, but on the agent that spread it.
For Planet B, I am in the process of turning the dean into an algorithm. On an abstract level, the steps that it consists of look like this:
Associate a concrete piece of information to a particular agent.
Adjust the reputation score of this agent according to the quality of its contribution (post, comment, like, etc.).
Amplify or quieten the reach of the contribution based on the agent's reputation score.
Remove the agent from discourse if its reputation drops below a treshhold.
Photo by Zoltan Fekeshazi on Unsplash