US media veteran Kay Koplovitz says it is time to reject “fake news” and argues social media consumers will soon demand a return to verified, fact-based media they can trust.
Ms Koplovitz said the Cambridge Analytica scandal involving the exploitation of Facebook user data was also a reality check on how social media could influence elections and potentially threaten democracy.
“I think we have really got to put a stake in the ground with traditional sources that are trusted and fact-based,” she said.
“And that’s why I think more traditional media that is fact-based will become again more valued by people.
“People are beginning to realise that access to social media is not really free, that you’re giving up your identity to the people that run social media.
“Because they sell who you are and what they know about you for their business.
“Now, that’s OK if you understand what you’re giving them.”
Ms Koplovitz is the founder of the USA TV cable network and the first female president of a US television broadcaster.
She is visiting Australia to work with female entrepreneurs through her Springboard Enterprises initiative.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg will face the US congress tomorrow in the wake of the social media giant confirming 157 million Facebook and Instagram users received “disinformation” from a Russian outlet.
Ms Koplovitz said Mr Zuckerberg would be under pressure to assure users, governments and regulators that systems were in place to ensure private data was not misused.
“He is going to have to show Congress that he now truly understands the impact of what happened through Facebook in the election,” she said.
“I think all social media has to now weigh in as to how they are actually going to guard against this.
“They [Facebook] need to take steps to screen. They can create algorithms to do this, to screen for factual information and to point out to people that this information does not bear weight under fact-checking.”
Ms Koplovitz said while she believed governments would regulate social media, she feared regulators were moving too slowly.
“We don’t have time to sit back and wait for regulation to move through the political process, which will take maybe a couple of years,” she said.
“We have to do something now because we need to have a solution before our [US] elections in the fall of this year.”
Trump has ‘undermined democracy’ in the US
Ms Koplovitz also criticised US President Donald Trump for promoting the “fake news” slogan and undermining democracy in America via Twitter.
“This goes on every single day. He attacks our justice system, our FBI, our Congress, all of our institutions of democracy — this is unacceptable for the President of the United States,” she said.
“I just think it is dividing the people, not uniting the people of our country.
“His way is to attack everybody else and make himself the centre of attention, every minute of every day.”
Ms Koplovitz also said women around the world had been empowered by the #metoo movement after high profile women spoke out about sexual harassment in Hollywood.
“Harvey Weinstein was a real pivotal point. But one thing has really changed — people are believing the accusers,” she said.
“They have banded together in supporting one another in their charges, and I think that is a cultural switch that we have never seen before.
“And I do not think it’s going back. So I think that that is a positive movement.”