If you noticed, main media newspaper houses do not rush to publish stories; no matter how newsworthy the pieces are. These credible news outlets gather evidence, balance the story and eliminate chances of those that may be injured suing.
This is different from the stories that are published on social media platforms where everybody is an instant investigative journalist. The writers of the stories usually hide behind pen names and are very difficult to trace as social media platforms like Facebook have a non-disclosure policy.
The downside is that social media news is not reliable hence the moniker ‘fake news’. Facebook and Google are usually not too pleased with this description. The two companies, therefore, carry news from credible main media outlets. These are articles from credible newspapers. In this way, there is a way to audit fake news.
Facebook and Google do not pay the newspapers for the stories. Both Facebook and Google claim that it is actually the newspapers that benefit. The philosophy is that if you pick a snippet of a story from Facebook or Google’s Instagram, you will be encourage to buy the newspaper.
If you asked the newspaper owners, they would tell you that it is actually the opposite. These newspaper articles either validate fake news or discredit social media news. When an article appears on social media in Malawi, for example, people wait for validation from Times, Nation or Zodiak outlets.
In Australia, the debate got so hot that the government weighed in. The wheels of parliament were set in motion to create a law to sort of the miasma. The new law forces Facebook and Google to pay newspapers for any content used on their social media.
Facebook and Google have not received the news gracefully. Facebook, was actually more vocal than Google threating to pull out all newspaper material from its Australian site.
What shall we say about these things?
Credible news is not cheap to create. Fake news cost nothing but sometimes unnecessary causeinjury to individuals.
Newspaper companies must be compensated for what they spend to create news that validates fake news. It is a service and it cannot be free lunch.
If Google and Facebook become unyielding, it is fake news that will become the loser. For main media outlets, this is actually a blessing in disguise, otherwise, if fake news was credible, who would need anything else?
In Malawi, Times, Nation and Zodiak have social media presence, however, it is free lunch; there must be a way to monetize it; it is great service.