In an alternate universe on an alternate earth, we have a nation, or a culture, who with the advent of modern communication technologies has an insatiable thirst for information, be it current events, sports, politics, and whatever else.

Most humans have been implanted with devices to facilitate a news feed directly into their mind. Think of it as closing your eyes and seeing the feed from your smart phone.

Brain wise this does not function differently than reading the info would normally except that the information can be processed faster. So it’s not as if your brain is being injected with unwanted information it’s just a new delivery method and there is far more information available than any one human could ever hope to process.

The only major variance in the types of information that can be provided is a sort of first person video feed, while not a live stream this medium comes with the ability to record the emotions elicited in the person that viewed whatever is being shared.

This evolution has driven reporters and other agents of information sharing to the breaking point when it comes to being able to give stories the proper amount of review and attention. When consumers are consuming knowledge at the speed of thought, being the first to get the information out (and thus pull in ad revenue) is crucial.

Even more challenging, the technology allows anyone to share information with large audiences in real time though there are no filters/validation steps included, just raw information as the person perceives it or it could just as well be a blatant lie.

This information, depending on the content, often makes such waves that formal news agencies are forced to address them as well.

Complicating the situation further is that the average consumer in this interconnected universe is so inundated with incoming information that rarely are they able to compare the initial source and context of the information to follow up information … that story is so 4 hours ago

  • How do you ensure accuracy of information in such a world. to clarify, by accurate I mean that a given story/scenario is properly framed. Clearly 100% accuracy is impossible but the problem I am attempting to fix is the idea that there is condemnation and rushes to evaluate before a story is truly told.
  • How do you avoid mob mentality when information (be it true or false/true-ish) can be shared peer to peer
  • How do you protect public figures from a constant barrage of falsehoods and misinformation

Additional notes these may help you frame your answer.

  • The nation in question is generally free and democratic and any attempt to reduce that freedom would be opposed by the public, and would reduce to a certain extent the usefulness of an answer. The aim is to fix the problem without significantly curtailing freedoms. That being said if it cannot be fixed but by totalitarian measures that would still be a legit answer.

  • The nature of the addiction is not chemical/physical as it would be with a drug, beyond that the nature of the addiction is nebulous and you may modify it to fit your answer.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The ability to send prank videos to entire populations directly into their minds sounds highly entertaining. $\endgroup$
    – Kys
    Aug 26, 2016 at 14:38
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I feel like editting this post to improve it's truthiness and giving it a wiki entry with my new input ;) Though it's a bit more extreme in your scenario, we've yet to find a solution to this in this world. Now excuse me, I'm off to edit a wiki page on the higgs boson to ensure it gives a proper node to creationism and viagra. $\endgroup$
    – Twelfth
    Aug 26, 2016 at 15:38
  • $\begingroup$ I don't think we can guarantee accuracy without severely compromising speed. $\endgroup$ Aug 26, 2016 at 16:21
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @James So it's YouTube but with an emotion track, ok. $\endgroup$
    – John Feltz
    Aug 26, 2016 at 17:45
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ My point is that you may be concerned about mob mentality because you've sufficiently unbalanced the world with an addiction to information that you have to live with the consequences. Is the nature of the addiction to information something that we can tweak in our answer, or do you need some external solution to the mess that has been created (which will have its own consequences) $\endgroup$
    – Cort Ammon
    Aug 26, 2016 at 18:17

8 Answers 8


Attribution, peer review / cross-checking, disentanglement and reputation


Digital information can be attributed to a source, through certificates or similar identity mechanisms. With this you know who sent the information.

Peer review / Cross-checking

Get the information from more than one angle. Compare the information. Does it appear to correlate? Do others present the same information? If things match up, then the information becomes more trustworthy.


Do the persons that present the information have any kind of relation to each other? Do they have a stake in the issue? Do they have a quarrel with other casters? This is up to the "news casters" to reveal and they may choose to not do so. But refusal to speak of possible of entanglements automatically lowers the trustworthiness of the information they present.


Viewers of the information can rate the information they have gotten and as such the caster gets a reputation score. Someone that has not reported anything before is a faceless nobody and as such does not have any good reputation; their word will be taken lightly. But people that deliver stuff that seems to check out according to the points above will start to earn marks.

...in other words: just as it is today

...only much faster.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ +1 for reputation. This would probably be the most important factor in a super-high-speed information sharing society; its analogous of how U.S. Representatives are selected to make decisions for U.S. citizens; the citizens don't have the time (or often inclination) to investigate and rely on their representative to do it for them... often just based on their reputation. $\endgroup$
    – Marky
    Aug 29, 2016 at 14:15
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ +1 for just as it is today. There are so many more news sources and outlets than there were back in the print only days. But you know which ones are unbiased (if there is such a thing any more) and which ones lean more toward the style you like to consume. The concepts are the same regardless of the method of consumption. $\endgroup$ Aug 29, 2016 at 14:23
  • $\begingroup$ Michael can you elaborate a bit? Sure peer reviews and cross checking are great, but can they be done in real time. Part of the issue at hand is that people read/watch something then move on to the next topic, rarely if ever going back to review clarifications/etc. Same question for your disentanglement section, yes that should be done, but how can it be in the world described? $\endgroup$
    – James
    Aug 29, 2016 at 17:24
  • $\begingroup$ @James Yes, because people can tag their news with time, location, names, and other tags of interest. Each event thereby gets its own identity and anyone interested can just pull in the feed from other sources that have tagged into the same event. Disentanglement is the same as declaring potential conflicts of interest. This is deeply ingrained in news already today. $\endgroup$
    – MichaelK
    Aug 29, 2016 at 17:32
  • $\begingroup$ Tags are not widely used, at least in any consistent way in the news today. I am not saying its a bad idea but explaining how that would work would make the answer better. Saying do x is one thing, explaining how it would realistically function is what I am more looking for* $\endgroup$
    – James
    Aug 29, 2016 at 18:14

This isn't an easy question since we're struggling with it on a daily basis. I can list a pretty wide variety of misinformations that have made its way into semi-popular internet culture ('vitamin b17' or the almost montlhy hoax of betty white passing)...It's an inherent risk of the decentralization of information (i.e., anyone can become an information source in today's world).

How do you ensure accuracy of information in such a world. to clarify, by accurate I mean that a given story/scenario is properly framed. Clearly 100% accuracy is impossible but the idea would be that good information gets to people before they act.

I have to say that this is an immediate impossibility as this much of this exists in the interpretation domain. An article on a war has atleast 4 very different frames (one side vs other side vs neutral observer vs arms merchant/profiteer). Which frame is considered 'proper'? (I'm canadian, to me 98% of framing in American news is already framed so very wrong.) Skip war...a proposal to implement gun control, health care, same sex rights, abortion, etc... all have very different interpretation points they can come from. Which one of these view points is 'proper' and how exactly do you determine this and mute the 'improper' ones?

It's a weird loop honestly...silencing 'improper' view points is a direct challenge to the freedom of your nation. Attempts to control what is a 'proper' framing of a story will always be a direct challenge to a persons freedom (Yes, freedom involves believing and spreading the belief of the stupidest **** we can come up with, including my answer to your question)

Lets ignore the 'opinion' ones and go with factual information only...like reading a university study paper or a medical trial paper. In this case, you need a central, likely peer reviewed, authority to act as the single source for this information. Any disagreeing information out there can be referred to this central source as a point of reference. This central authorities existence won't be easy as it's going to directly conflict with freedom by telling people whats interpretation is the 'proper' framing.

How do you avoid mob mentality when information (be it true or false/true-ish) can be shared peer to peer

This is another one that has been proven that we cannot. Without a significant change to culture and the way we interact, this will never happen. As much as we like to say we are evolved, gathering in groups and throwing virtual stones is how we act. We readily jump on board to group shaming when required (this person was caught doing this on video and it was posted on the internet and 'gasp' oh my, I never...how could they do such a thing!).

You avoid the mob mentality on peer to peer once humans social nature has evolved away from it.

How do you protect public figures from a constant barrage of falsehoods and misinformation

Central source of information. If it's not posted on the central source, it isn't true. However, it's been proven time and time again on the internet, if something can be screwed with on the internet, there is going to be a group of people that will. From naming an arctic research ship "boaty mcboatface" (significantly better than other entrees making the top 10 like HMS HitlerWasRight) to sending pop star Taylor Swift to perform a free concert at a school for deaf children, we as an internet community are going to screw with stuff when we see the opportunity.

But I did want to throw out a potential solution for you here. Eliminate internet anonymity.

  1. You now make it publicly known what interpretation point this information is from. You can never guarantee it's accurate, but now it can be traced back to the person who posted it and judgement to its authenticity can be made from there.

  2. Mobs are anonymous by nature, eliminate that and you eliminate the safety of being a part of that mob.

  3. A few harsh slander laws / misinfo laws and the ability to trace everything back to the originator and this won't be a problem. Of course, this gets back to interpretation and you might have arguements as to whats true and whats not to resolve.

Of course in todays world you are going to get one large pushback as the internet community heavily values in anonymous nature and semi-vigilante groups such as anonymous will heavily impede this attempt (anon is hard to deal with as its membership draws from nearly anyone anywhere that wants to be a part of the movement). What happens when anon coordinates a simple DDOS attack on your central sources of info?

  • $\begingroup$ Eliminate internet anonymity. - will not help, worst cure someone could have. $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Aug 27, 2016 at 15:11

Ensuring Accuracy

I doubt accuracy can be 100% guaranteed. In this world the news reporters will likely favour speed and a good headline over accuracy. A law could be passed forcing news agencies to have at least two independent sources before they can report. This will improve things a little but it won't stop random people reporting 'news' and having it spread that way.

Protecting public figures

Don't allow anything about a public figure to be posted without two, independent sources. This will help block news agencies from lying about public figures. Track where posts come from and if a post contains lies have extremely strict punishments. Possibly including banning people from posting on the network. This should discourage individuals from lying.


You fight bad free speech with more speech.

Reality is cheap to communicate. Lies take effort.

However, things will be validated only so much as people bother to validate them.

So when Bob's vacation vids come on line I won't bother to check that Bob didn't really go to Hawaii. He just stood behind some standups of a guy surfing while his wife started broadcasting. A few moments looking closely would tell me the truth. But I don't know the truth. Mostly because I don't care.

And that's what's happening today. Politician after politician has to lie to you not because they think you can't find out. It's because they know you don't care. So they tell you what you want to hear. News reporters know the same thing. They only bother with what they know they can get you to read.

Why? Well because we all have other stuff to do.


How do you avoid mob mentality when information (be it true or false/true-ish) can be shared peer to peer

join 4chan, you will find out over time

no one cares
Anonymous do not forget

P2P Information is not a problem, liars will lie, those who don't they don't, haters gonna hate, all they will change roles between each other randomly, those who will disagree will disagree, debunkers will debunk, attention whore will draw attention, prophets will prophet, opinions will thrive etc etc.

Funny thing is we are used for that longer then internet exists, way much longer. Being used for that is actually one of the reasons for our prosperity (it is, if we compare what we had/was 50000 years ago, and what we have now - there is no doubt).

In general what you describe is not different from what we have and what we had. And less you try do it "Right", better it is - peoples will sort that everything out by them self's.

there is far more information available than any one human could ever hope to process

This premise does not mean information will not be sorted out and classified and marked with different hashtags, and labels of your desire. Until you setup White Noise Generator as source of information - most information which people care will be generated by humans themselves. So in general as group they have more then enough power to process it all, and classify it.

It is like food, different peoples have different desires in food, but here they will get that information prepared as they it desire and like. Like spicy - you will get, like something else you will get it too.

  • $\begingroup$ Did you just recommend 4chan as a valid place to learn something about overcoming mob mentality? $\endgroup$
    – James
    Aug 29, 2016 at 18:21
  • $\begingroup$ @James more like place, where it can be learned what it actually is, and if it is your wish then overcome it. Mob mentality isn't good, isn't bad. It starts at different levels. Not sure particularly about 4chan it is only eng resource I'm aware of, saw it a little, but not found scify board so skipped it after while, but in general people are people, so I thinks it is same stuff there. I guess any anon board will be ok for that. $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Aug 30, 2016 at 11:47

I agree with a lot of what is already said, but wanted to add a few things more.

When you take into account things like confirmation bias, I don't think you'll ever have a case where there is the One True Answer for any problem. Even for instant issues, there are going to be different views and probably some significant polarization on opinions.

Because of that, I would expand on the idea of web of trust in that the people who believe/agree with a given piece of information is recorded (via a handle or unique identifier). However, I would call this a web of influence (WOI). This would function kind of like Likes or Stars in social network. However, the WOI would let you identify individuals as "I believe in what they say" or "this person is an idiot". Those individual markings would then alter the stars/likes combined based on the perceptions and beliefs of the individual.

The other part is that every piece of information that goes through the web allows someone to mark it as +1, 0, -1 (thumbs up/down, whatever). As it goes from the source to the viewer, it accumulates those numbers through relationships and personal opinions.

Person0 likes Person1 who likes Person2.

Person2 likes a bit of information (+1). Person1 likes Person2's opinion (so +1). So, Person0 sees +2.

If Person1 then likes the information themselves, then Person0 would see +3.

Likewise, the negative also applies but the value is flipped through a dislike. Negative values are tracked separately.

For example, Person0 dislikes Person3 who likes a piece of information (+1) it shows as -1 for Person0.

If Person0 dislikes Person3 who dislikes Person2. Then when Person2 likes something, Person0 sees +5 (+3 from above +2 for the 2/3/0 chain).

The fun part comes when Person3 likes something. This would show as a +5/-2 (net +3 for general opinions, +5 for personal echo chamber).

However, if two opposing sides both think a piece is important (Person2's like in the above example), then it is more likely to be unbiased. So, you could take the delta between the two as the relative truthiness of any piece of information. In this case 7 (+5 -2).

If you filtered out less than X for truthiness, I think you'd have a relatively unbiased approach across a large network of viewers. That X could be network/government supplied to reduce mob rule (it only shows up for the bulk of the population once it hits a certain consensus) which would slow down that. There could also be individual filters to change X for specific tags (I want to see cat videos so X is halved); this would also let you address information overload.

  • $\begingroup$ One problem with current reputation systems is that they are more like a blunt instrument than a precision system. I rate you on a trust scale. But you are a great and trustworthy auto-mechanic and know jack about growing crops. Now you write an article on growing crops. Reputation system fail! $\endgroup$ Sep 3, 2016 at 9:46
  • $\begingroup$ True, but then to implement using this, you'd have to weight individual responses by their experience. That would require someone to have verification that they are an expert in that (which might use something like Linked In's "does this person really know...") request. Where that fails is when you encounter something that no one is an expert. That is why I went with just leaving it open with general "I trust" experts. $\endgroup$
    – dmoonfire
    Sep 4, 2016 at 17:32

This is an augmented version of what's currently happening with internet reporting today.

Most people find a filtered source of news which they trust, supplementing that with the constant barrage coming from unfiltered sources. You say that there is no filtration of the news, but if I know humans (and I am one) then humans would find a way to filter their news in three ways:

  • For accuracy.
  • To fit the worldview they already have.
  • by popularity within their peer groups.

Look to the system we already have for your answers, because this is almost the same as what we have. It's actually more likely to be a little more accurate because it's a first person perspective. Those who value accuracy will find as many sources as possible and go to established, trusted sources to get their info. Others will got to Fox News or MSNBC to fit the worldview they already have. The worldview sources will curate these stories to fit their audience's worldview. Social feeds will always have a top story that will be shared virally, and the most popular will be seen more often.

Protections from Slander

We have a difficult time with this in our world. One of the ways this can work is by removing the anonymous aspect of internet interactions. Anyone who doesn't put their name out there can't share in this way (only in a print format).

There should also be more stringent and enforced laws, that don't need the individual slighted to come forward.


What you describe here is like having information delivered only by a huge pack of freelance journalists (terrifying thought, it'd be like having news only from youtubers), that's why with time we built news agencies, and the order of journalist. Side note: this is also in "Deus-Ex Human Revolution", where huge parts of information and news are controlled by a single entity.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .