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Chart: The Fake News Problem

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The Fake News Problem in One Chart

Chart: The Fake News Problem

Peer opinion fills a void left by falling trust in mass media

The Chart of the Week is a weekly Visual Capitalist feature on Fridays.

There’s been no shortage of blame passed around for the so-called “fake news” epidemic that has been front and center since the U.S. election.

Social media has been singled out as one key factor leading to the spread of misleading or false news. However, low barriers to entry for creating content, hyperpartisanism, confirmation bias, and the echo-chamber effect have also been identified as causes or symptoms in the proliferation of such stories.

It’s certainly a complex problem to unravel, and many proposed solutions are just as alarming as the symptoms they try to treat. The decentralization and fragmentation of information is the core of what makes the internet great, and this democratization helps to decouple power away from the established institutions that may or may not have our interests at heart.

How do we regulate news for its authority and legitimacy without stifling alternate viewpoints, differing narratives, and independent sources of information?

Root Causes

In today’s landscape, people are turning away from traditional media and gravitating towards digital content. In this new digital media paradigm, who is considered a trustworthy and convenient source of information?

As long as they could remain reputable, the mainstream outlets that garnered eyeballs throughout broadcasting history should have been the obvious benefactors of this transition. Groups like CNN and Fox News, or The New York Times and The Washington Post, could have remained unquestioned authorities on the issues.

However, it seems like this opportunity has been recently squandered to some extent. These outlets have been slow to adopt their business strategies to the digital landscape, and they remain in damage control mode as advertising revenues drop and profitability wanes. Publishers have been under immense pressure to generate views, and have taken shortcuts in content creation to do this. Hyperpartisan viewpoints that confirm existing biases (aka, the Huffington Post or Breitbart models) and sensational clickbait headlines have been one easy way to build traffic. Some publishers also have an itchy trigger finger, and it seems that getting a story out first has become more important than verifying its validity.

These above factors have, ironically, led to mass media as being a direct part of the “fake news” problem. The retracted stories on Russian propaganda by the Washington Post have been a lightning rod for scrutiny, and entire posts are dedicated to keeping misleading stories from established media at bay. Having a track record with zero blemishes is obviously a difficult target to hit, but the reality is that we are seeing misleading news from everywhere now: “fake news” outlets, mainstream outlets, and the White House itself.

Falling Trust in Media and Institutions

Even before “fake news” hit the mainstream, a poll by Gallup showed that Americans’ trust in mass media was hitting an all-time low. In September 2016, only 32% of people said they have a great deal or fair amount of trust in the media, which is a decline of -8% from the previous year.

A report from Edelman from January 2017 is even more damning. Trust of the media declined -5% from 2016, which is faster than trust is declining in government (-1%), business (-1%), and NGOs (-2%).

As we mentioned earlier, the rise of fake news is complex and very difficult to untangle. However, the fact is that established news outlets aren’t doing themselves any favors. If people feel like they can’t trust the Washington Post or other such sources, then it should be no surprise that they are turning to the power of “word of mouth” from their peers more often – no matter how fallible this might be.

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Animation: The Top 15 Global Brands (2000-2018)

This stunning animation shows a dramatic change in the world’s most valuable global brands. Watch tech companies like Apple shoot up the rankings in style.

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Animation: The Top 15 Global Brands (2000-2018)

Time travel back to the early-2000s, and a list of the world’s most respected brands might be surprising.

Tobacco company Marlboro is still one of the top 15 global brands with a value of $22 billion, while companies like Nokia and AT&T also help to round out the group.

Aside from Microsoft, the tech companies at the time were mostly focused on hardware and services. HP was considered a top global brand at the time, and even IBM was still making PCs until the year 2005.

The Platform Revolution

How times have changed.

In today’s animation from TheRankings, you can see how the list of the top 15 global brands has evolved over the last two decades or so.

The visible shift: as soon as Google hits the rankings in 2008 (2:21 in video), it becomes clear that the money is on the software side – particularly in coding software that ends up as a dominant consumer platform.

Shortly after, companies like Apple, Facebook, and Amazon enter the fold, quickly climbing to the top. Here are the final numbers for 2018 in terms of brand value, with data coming from Interbrand:

Top 15 Global Brands in 2018

The Problem with Hardware

What’s the difference between the big hardware firms of old, and the successful ones that dot the list today?

From a business perspective, hardware companies need to have a bold and accurate vision of the future, constantly taking innovative strides to beat competitors to that vision. If they can only make incremental improvements, the reality is that their competitors can enter the fold to create cheaper, similar hardware.

Samsung, which finished 2018 as the world’s sixth most valued brand, is a good example of this in practice. The company has had the top-selling smartphone for every year between 2012-2018 – an impressive feat in staying on top of consumer trends and technology.

Despite Samsung’s success, it remains stuck behind four other tech brands on the list – all companies almost exclusively focused on platforms: Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and Apple.

Why are Platforms so Dominant?

Constant innovation is a good barrier to entry if you can keep doing it – but the platforms have an even more bulletproof strategy: being everywhere at once.

Facebook uses the powerful network effect from billions of people as a moat, and then it buys up-and-comers (Instagram, WhatsApp) to cover even more ground. As a result, competing with Facebook is a nightmare – even if you could theoretically acquire new users at $1 per user at a ridiculous scale, it would require a marketing investment of billions of dollars to make inroads on the company’s audience.

Microsoft owns various platforms (Windows, Xbox, LinkedIn, Azure, etc.) that help insulate from competition, while Google’s strategy is to be everywhere you need to search, even if it’s in your living room.

Because platforms have massive scale and are ubiquitous with consumers, it gives them the ultimate pricing power. In turn, at least so far, they have been able to establish the world’s most powerful consumer brands.

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Meet Generation Z: The Newest Member to the Workforce

As Millennials enter their early-30s, the focus is now shifting to Generation Z – a group that is just starting to enter the workforce for the first time.

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Every generation approaches the workplace differently.

While talk over the last decade has largely focused on understanding the work habits and attitudes of Millennials, it’s already time for a new generation to enter the fold.

Generation Z, the group born after the Millennials, is entering their early adult years and starting their young careers. What makes them different, and how will they approach things differently than past generations?

Meet Generation Z

Today’s infographic comes to us from ZeroCater, and it will help introduce you to the newest entrant to the modern workforce: Generation Z.

Meet Generation Z: The Newest Member to the Workforce

There is no exact consensus on the definition of Generation Z, and demographers can differ on where it starts. Some have Gen Z beginning as early as the mid-1990s, while others see it starting in the mid-2000s.

Regardless, Generation Z is the group that follows the Millennials – and many Gen Zers are wrapping up high school, finishing up their university degrees, or looking to get their first real jobs.

Millennials vs. Gen Z

While generational differences cast a wide net and don’t necessarily apply to every individual, here is what demographers say are some key similarities and differences between Gen Z and Millennials.

MillennialsGeneration Z
Raised by Baby BoomersRaised by Gen Xers
Grew up during an economic boomGrew up during a recession
Tend to be idealisticTend to be pragmatic
Focused on having experiencesFocused on saving money
Mobile pioneersMobile natives
Prefer brands that share their valuesPrefer brands that feel authentic
Prefer Facebook and InstagramPrefer Snapchat and Instagram

Generation Z tends to be more pragmatic, approaching both their education and career differently than Millennials. It appears that Gen Z is also approaching money in a unique way compared to past groups.

What to Expect?

Generation Z does not remember a time when the internet did not exist – and as such, it’s not surprising to learn that 50% of Gen Z spends 10 hours a day connected online, and 70% watches YouTube for two hours a day or more.

But put aside this ultra-connectivity, and Gen Zers have some unique and possibly unexpected traits. Gen Z prefers face-to-face interactions in the workplace, and also expects to work harder than past groups. Gen Z is also the most diverse generation (49% non-white) and values racial equality as a top issue. Finally, Gen Z is possibly one of the most practical generations, valuing things like saving money and getting stable jobs.

You may already have Gen Zers in your workplace – but if you don’t, you will soon.

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