In this technologically-dominated world we live in, we are constantly bombarded with information from a variety of sources at a speed that we really can't keep up with. It is impossible to read everything in order to keep up with current affairs and as a result we have relied on trusted individuals and organisations to curate all that news for us and give us exactly what we need to know in easy to digest chunks - so we can keep up to date with what is happening in our world, without getting overwhelmed.
News curation, in this form, is a rapidly growing business, and there are hundreds, if not thousands of new startups in the technology industry fighting to be known as a 'trusted source', because with that trust - comes attention, page views and ultimately - influence. Whether it be via a twitter stream of retweeted links or by a traditional news broadcaster on TV - everyone is fighting for our attention and our time. (In essence so that they can sell ads - but that is another debate altogether. )
In this light, I have been thinking about a very tangible flaw in this model.
When does news curation become propaganda?
Naturally, these news curators have certain opinions and as much as they may strive to remain neutral, there are inherent biases that will dictate the kind of information that they share. This bias is significantly scalable due to the large amount of influence that these figures tend to attract. In this way, as consumers, if we don't select our 'messengers' carefully, we could end up with a very one-sided view of our world and what goes on in it - whether intentional or not. Propaganda.
As these curators gain more power over time, by the sheer virtue of the numbers of people following what they curate, the threat of propaganda grows stronger. It is not entirely implausible to imagine a sculpted media barrage against or for a certain political or economic issue - based solely on the twitter streams of a few key influencers. It's a scary proposition, and as an individual we don't have the time to dig behind the scenes and mine the millions of alternate stories.
We have to trust someone to bring us that information, even if merely for our own sanity!
So the only practical solution I can see is for us to curate our own curators.
If we consciously widen the scope of who we trust as news-providers, we can hopefully spread the risk (if you will) and gain the most open-minded view of real life events. For example, following leaders from both major political parties allows us to fact-check each party's statements and compare the information being delivered. It places the responsibility back onto you again to decide where your opinions will lie and how you will react. It is by no way a perfect solution, but it does mitigate the risk of propaganda and hopefully can give the right information you need, without the hours of ache.
Let's hope that the market forces continue to distinguish the truth from the lies and that organically the right stuff floats to the top of our feeds, thanks to our chosen curators.
If that doesn't happen, we are in for a very difficult ride.