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LETTER: The Age of Disinformation: When you can’t trust what you see with your own eyes

To the editor:

Trust in facts is a cornerstone of American democracy. Disinformation and distrust of the media have been major contributors to our socially, politically and economically polarized society.

If we are going to bridge divides and collectively address major issues affecting our nation and the world, we must be able to work from a foundation of facts. Consumers rely on news and social media information more than ever—and they need to be able to trust it.  

Several promising initiatives are underway. Adobe, for example, has created a way to embed identifying data to content so photos and articles can be traced for manipulation and authenticated. Public-private partnerships to develop comprehensive media literacy education programs are a must. Providing learners at the earliest age with tools and knowledge to discern facts and truth, differentiate between news and opinion and check multiple sources are fundamental building blocks to combat the scourge of fake and misleading information online.

Success will require industry-driven initiatives and the cooperation of state and federal government agencies to help restore trust in and to protect online content. 


There is no easy fix. What is clear is that we must act now. The future of our democracy depends upon it.

Jeff Joseph, president, SIIA
Washington, D.C.