In a recent livestream, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden stated that the solution to “fake news” was not censorship but critical thinking.
Streaming via the Periscope app from his Twitter account, Snowden discussed with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey claims that “fake news” helped to sway the election in favour of President-elect Donald Trump. Facebook announced that it would be partnering with ABC News, Politifact, and Snopes to label “fake news” on their platform. Snowden stated that censorship was not the answer to the issue and that teaching people critical thinking would be much more beneficial.
“The problem of fake news isn’t solved by hoping for a referee but rather because we as participants, we as citizens, we as users of these services help each other,” said Snowden, “The answer to bad speech is not censorship. The answer to bad speech is more speech. We have to exercise and spread the idea that critical thinking matters now more than ever, given the fact that lies seem to be getting very popular.”
Snowden did not state whether or not he believed the claims that “fake news” had swung the election in any way but rather pointed out the dangers of companies using terms like “fake news” to censor content with which they disagreed. Snowden stated that rather than waiting for gatekeepers to define what is and isn’t “fake news,” people should have an open dialogue with each other and point out proven facts.
Snowden has previously stated the people must stop relying on one source for all of their news. Speaking at Fusion’s Real Future Fair, Snowden said, “There seems to be no alternative to the larger services. Because of this network effect, because the first mover advantage. When you get a Google or a Facebook or Twitter in place, they never seem to leave,” Snowden said. “To have one company that has enough power to reshape the way we think, I don’t think I need to describe how dangerous that is.”
Watch a replay of Snowden’s interview with Jack Dorsey here.