Apple CEO Tim Cook wants the technology industry to take action against “fake news” stories polluting the web.
“There has to be a massive campaign. We have to think about every population,” Cook said in a rare interview.
Speaking with the Daily Telegraph, “We all need technology companies to create some tools that help reduce the amount of fake news,” Cook said.
Other top technology company executives, such as Facebook Mark Zuckerberg, have spoken of the problem in recent months. But Cook’s comments were more straightforward.
According to the Telegraph, he said fake stories and hoaxes “kill people’s minds.”
He described “fake news plague” as a major problem in many countries of the world.
The term “fake news” was originally designed to describe online stories designed to trick readers. These stories are often shared on Facebook and other social networking sites to make money for creators. At other times, the stories are propaganda made mainly for political purposes.
These types of stories received widespread attention before and after the US elections. Fairy tales won titles like “Pope Francis Shakes the World and Supports Donald Trump for President” with millions of clicks.
It can be very difficult for web surfers to know the difference between legitimate and fake news sources.
This is where companies like Apple come in.
In an interview with the Telegraph – part of a several-day European trip – Cook said, “Many of us are in the complaint category now and they haven’t figured out what to do.”
He urged technological and intellectual solutions.
“We need the modern version of the public service announcement campaign. It can be done quickly if there is a will,” Cook told the newspaper.
What he described as music in the ears of media literacy advocates.
“It almost looks like a new round for the modern baby,” said Cook.
There are separate efforts in some schools to teach media literacy, with an emphasis on digital skills, but it is by no means universal.
When asked if Apple would commit to funding the PSA campaign, an Apple spokesperson said the company had no further comment on Cook’s interview.
Apple CEO also suggested that technology companies can help get rid of fake stories, although he added: “We should try to squeeze this without stepping into freedom of expression and the press.”
Apple News is credited with being a relatively reliable place to find information.
The company “reviews publishers who join Apple News” BuzzFeed noted last December.
The app contains “An anxiety reporting function where users can report fake news or hate speech.”
Facebook recently started working with fact checkers to test “warning stickers” that appear when users share different stories.
Cook said in an interview that he is optimistic that the “fake news” epidemic is “something short-term – I don’t think people want that at the end of the day.”
CNNMoney (New York) First published February 11, 2017: 8:00 PM ET