Digital Culture

Many snippets create a new picture

By Roxana Behzadi & Vincent Seitz
#fakenews
Illustrations by Roxana Behzadi & Vincent Seitz

For those who are interested in art techniques might know the technique of a collage. You take many snippets and glue them on a solid ground to create a whole new picture. Absolutely free and with no boundaries for creativity. Isn‘t the world wide web also a kind of a collage where opinions and news come together as snippets and are able to create a total new context or picture? How close to the truth can journalism be in our time, where everyone can openly write about their point of view? How can journalism look like in a digital world and stay objective and transparent to readers?

How often does it happen that social media takes pictures out of their real context and create new circumstances which influences people in their opinions. One of the main reasons fake news exist is to influence people in their general opinion.

As comparison authors and publicists use often methods where the story itself sows doubts into the reader. As a result it makes the story more readable and probably a little bit more precious. People yearn for drama and things that makes them curious. Being questioned means attention. And exactly this what fake news want to generate. It‘s the attention that brings profit, that brings clicks and it‘s attention that helps to influence people for a certain side. Didn‘t you wonder why most of the headlines in newspapers are mainly negative? Why? Because negative news are more interesting than positive news. A human brain will always remember the bad things more than the good ones. Bad memories stay longer in your head than good ones.

Vincent and I are born in the '90s. Our generation faced the whole development from the first mobile phones until the latest smartphone. A digital jump we followed and grew up with. For us personally an adaptable change. But how does the older generation feel about all the digital change? In my parents generation they mainly grew up with solid journalism. What the newspaper published is powerful in their time and has a high standard of research values.

My parents in the internet

A few years ago my parents started to use smartphones. As I observed them there was something crucial I recognized about their online behaviour. Suddenly, my parents started to believe all the content social media served them. News, fake news, all news. I noticed that they become influenced by marketing strategies, direct mailing and personalized advertisment. Which truly affected and changed their consumption behaviour and the general abbility to make a difference between true or false news. Until this day I try to explain to my parents generation that not all the news and not all the mails they recieve delievers trustworthy content.

How to identify fake news?

To recognize fake news it’s always good to question the motivation behind certain posts. Clickbaits work with catching headers to get the attention of innocent readers, because people get richer through them per click. Clickbaits deliver often false and unbelievable messages to generate attention for the click. Another advice to recognize fake news is to check the source where the information comes from. In some cases sources are slightly changed and pretend to be serious. As an example: A Huffington Post article suddenly appeared as Huffingtons Post article. It’s a simple “s“ that changed. First readers might not recognize the difference of slightly changed names of famous newspapers.

How does this mean for us as designers?

When we stop recognizing true journalism between fake content we lose transparency. It can change a general opinion or whole behaviours of societies. But how can we deliver objective journalism and seperate it from the subjective opinion? Can we create something to mark fake news better? How can we as designers operate to make journalism in the web trustworthy again? How can we take all those snippets and place it in a new digital world with the main goal to place news in a true picture drawn by authentic, non-profitable reasons and objective research? We as designers can help to develop products that give well-researched news the plattform they deserve, filter fake news and let serious journalism thrive.

Questions or feedback? Get in touch and write us an email at feedback@digitalculture.info.

Digital Culture

Critical reflections on current developments in digital technologies and our role as designers to shape and sketch the future. With free choice of the topic, these texts have been written by students at HfG Schwäbisch Gmünd in the course "Digital Culture" under the supervision of Prof. Andreas Pollok.