How technology disrupted the truth


“How technology disrupted the truth”
Now, we are caught in a series of confusing battles between
opposing forces: between truth and falsehood, fact and rumour,
kindness and cruelty; between the few and the many, the
connected and the alienated; between the open platform of the
web as its architects envisioned it and the gated enclosures
of Facebook and other social networks; between an informed
public and a misguided mob.
What is common to these struggles
– and what makes their resolution an urgent matter –
is that they all involve the diminishing status of truth.
This does not mean that there are no truths. It simply means, as this
year has made very clear, that we cannot agree on what those
truths are, and when there is no consensus about the truth and
no way to achieve it, chaos soon follows.
Increasingly, what counts as a fact is merely a view that someone feels to be
true – and technology has made it very easy for these “facts”
to circulate with a speed and reach that was unimaginable in
the Gutenberg era (or even a decade ago).
A dubious story about Cameron and a pig appears in a tabloid one morning, and
by noon, it has flown around the world on social media and
turned up in trusted news sources everywhere. This may seem
like a small matter, but its consequences are enormous.
Lauren Weinstein