Elon Musk has been getting increasingly annoyed with media articles that share inaccurate news about him and his companies, and now he’s looking into doing something about it. He just shared on Twitter today that he’s considering creating a site to rank journalists’ credibility. He’s considering the name “Pravda.”
In a series of tweets, Musk said he was going to create this new website, and it would allow the public to rate articles based on how truthful they are. The site would also track journalists’ credibility score, along with the credibility score of editors and publications.
Musk often tweets about new ideas that he’s considering, and it seems that his creativity is endless. But frequent followers of Musk’s Twitter page have learned to take his tweeted ideas seriously. When people doubted that he was really creating a company to bore tunnels underground, he actually did it. And when he tweeted about creating a flame thrower, people doubted that too. But he actually made it.
We’re still waiting on the cyber dragon though. But maybe that was a reference of some sort to SpaceX’s Dragon.
As for the new website, if he does create it, his tweets indicate that it’s mostly about keeping journalists honest.
The trick, he added on Twitter, will be making the site bot-proof and unmasking anyone trying to use a bot army to game the system. And that is indeed an issue. Bots have been a problem on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. And downvoting armies have certainly been problems on other sites that rank submissions, like Reddit. Reddit users may downvote stories that they believe are not credible, but that’s not the main purpose of the site.
Steemit is another site that lets people upvote stories, and the person who submitted the story actually gets paid cryptocurrency based on how many votes their submissions get. The votes are weighted based on a number of factors, including a voter’s rank in the Steemit community (which is partially based on the votes they’ve received and how much Steem their account has.) The site’s purpose, however, isn’t to vote on stories based on whether or not they are credible. The blockchain-based site’s purpose is more about creating a decentralized community where information is shared, kind of a mix of Reddit and Medium. (This reporter is on Steemit here if you’d like to visit.)
It would be interesting if Musk’s new site used the blockchain. At this point, he hasn’t said anything to indicate where the site might be hosted or how it would be set up.
Musk did indicate that part of what is inspiring him is how journalists are under constant pressure to maximize clicks and earn advertising dollars, which can lead to articles’ having the wrong information. This, he seems to be indicating, can be especially true of articles about Tesla, since Tesla doesn’t pay for advertising but competing gad/diesel car companies do. But of course, the example can be extended to many other industries too.
Musk also had a very interesting response to someone who said fighting fake news might make him look like Trump:
You can take a poll and let Musk know what you think about his idea here:
What does Pravda mean? Pravda is Russian for “truth,” according to a Google translation. It’s also the name of a Russian newspaper that was once the official newspaper of the Soviet Union’s Communist party. The newspaper was started in 1912. Interestingly, the character “Squealer” in Animal Farm is often compared to Pravda. Some believe that George Orwell meant for Squealer to present the Soviet newspaper Pravda. Squealer is a fictional pig who was second-in-command and the farm’s minister of propaganda.
Musk has not yet said what inspired the name he’s considering, but it seems like the site could certainly be used to fight propaganda.
This is a developing story.