fake news
Apple CEO Tim Cook is calling for a crackdown on fake news. Picture credit: Mike Deerkoski

Apple CEO Tim Cook is calling for a “massive” global public information campaign to fight the rise of fake news, claiming the phenomenon is “killing people’s minds”. 

In an exclusive interview with The Telegraph, Cook says the current taste for fake news is ruining people’s spirits.

“We are going through this period of time right here where unfortunately some of the people that are winning are the people that spend their time trying to get the most clicks, not tell the most truth,” Cook says, adding: “It’s killing people’s minds in a way.”

Cook says the solution starts with education. “It has to be ingrained in the schools, it has to be ingrained in the public,” says Cook. “There has to be a massive campaign. We have to think through every demographic.

“We need the modern version of a public-service announcement campaign. It can be done quickly if there is a will.”

Cook says the current situation is a recipe for disaster, and tech companies have a responsibility to serve up more facts than fiction in news content.

“All of us technology companies need to create some tools that help diminish the volume of fake news,” says Cook, adding that secret sauce is in finding a balance between freedom of expression and stopping people from publishing outright lies.

“We must try to squeeze this without stepping on freedom of speech and of the press, but we must also help the reader. Too many of us are just in the complain category right now and haven’t figured out what to do.”

Cook adds the sources of high-quality journalism will benefit from a diet free of what’s come to be known as “clickbait” – the practice of publishing content designed to get clicks often without consideration of whether what is published is legal, lawful or accurate.

“The outcome of that is that truthful, reliable, non-sensational, deep news outlets will win,” he says.

Cook says fake news “is a short-term thing – I don’t believe people want that at the end of the day”.

Fake news has been blamed for damaging Democrat Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, allowing Republican Donald Trump into the White House.

Among the companies blamed for circulating fake news was Facebook, which is testing a new algorithm for identifying and eliminating fake news from its social media platform, which has approximately 2 billion users.

Google, which provides what is probably the world’s largest news aggregation service, deals with the problem “at source” – in that it does not allow anyone and everyone to post their stories to its news service.

News providers are individually selected by Google to be included in its news services, and relatively few sources are accepted. No such system was previously used at Facebook and many other aggregators.

However, Google is still an aggregator rather than a publisher, and has faced much criticism for freely benefitting from original journalism that other companies produce without paying for it.

Apple, meanwhile, launched its own News app a couple of years ago, and like Google it carefully selects the sources which are allowed to publish on the platform.

And because the app is now included in the operating system of iPhones and iPads – close to a billion of which have been sold to date – Apple News has quickly become one of the biggest news aggregators in the world.

Apple calls for ‘massive campaign’ against fake news, claiming it’s ‘killing people’s minds’ Click To Tweet

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