14 April 2019

RNCM Lawrence Jones MBE - mindset and belief - tech entrepreneurWe all know how technology has transformed our lives, but it is fascinating to see just how our use of technology is constantly evolving.

I often notice this with the changing trends that we must cater for at UKFast, but just how different our world now is became remarkably clear this morning. Instagram, Facebook and Whatsapp all went down.

Whilst it’s inconvenient, it’s not the end of the world. What is notable though, was that the first place I went to find out what was going on, was Twitter, rather than the tried and tested news outlets. Crowd-sourced news online seems to be the place for the latest information. Scrolling through the posts about the outage, it’s clear that I wasn’t the only one using the platform to check what was going on.

One of the reasons I think Twitter is winning the news battle is that nowadays we are all in such a hurry. Twitter forces you to only post stories with limited characters, so information is arriving in digestible chunks.

My PA posted a tweet about the Facebook outage and quickly garnered hundreds of likes and retweets! It demonstrates that we all feel a need to share and interact and feel part of the story or problem.

We’ve known for some time that traditional news outlets are in decline. Many traditional newspapers have wound up printed copies or reduced the production numbers at least, investing more time into online platforms. A great many of the broadsheets are now asking for donations or subscriptions to read full articles online.

Evolving

Podcasts, social media posts and video articles are now becoming the norm alongside written articles and news posts. Our consumption of news and information is undeniably evolving. But with that comes risks and challenges – as we’ve seen with the infamous spread of ‘fake news’.

There are even questions surrounding the impact of fake stories spreading on social media affecting the democratic process of elections and referendums including Donald Trump’s election, the Brexit vote and elections in India.

So what’s the answer? Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian told CNN that policing fake news will never be done. If one of the biggest platforms’ providers can’t see a way around it, what hope do we have?! Personally I think it comes down to us as users. If we learn to be a little more suspicious of the information that we read online, we’re less likely to fall for ‘fake news’ or stories with an agenda.

I often read stories across multiple outlets to get a more balanced view – this isn’t far removed from what we needed to do to get a balanced view from the newspapers. Ultimately every publication or news outlet has its own agenda and biases, we’ve known this for a long time so why would online sources be any different?

Now with so many people able to publicise content online, it is undeniably harder to establish people’s agendas and trustworthiness, however, it also means we have more unfiltered access to information than ever. That has to be a good thing!

Where do you go?

When news breaks, where do you go? If you’re anything like me, I head straight to Twitter first nowadays, long before I head to the BBC and the other news outlets. I do enjoy scanning for the best version of the story as each of outlets tell a slightly different story in a different style.

Just like everything else in the online world, we’re the first real generation to experience the change that this technology brings, with that comes a steep learning curve.Tackling the validity of the information we receive online is one such lesson.

It’s fascinating that the upcoming generation are less susceptible to this fake news than perhaps my generation. These young people are savvy, they’ve learned from our mistakes online and have grown up in a world where they’re taught to question what they read online.

It’s extraordinary to see this evolution right in front of our eyes.

What do you think? Are we learning to be more suspicious or are we still falling for fake news?

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