Fake news is killing people's minds, says Apple boss Tim Cook

Fake news is killing people's minds, says Apple boss Tim Cook

By Allister Heath 10 FEBRUARY 2017 • 10:00PM

Tim Cook, the boss of Apple, is calling for governments to launch a public information campaign to fight the scourge of fake news, which is “killing people’s minds”.

In an impassioned plea, Mr Cook, boss of the world’s largest company, says that the epidemic of false reports “is a big problem in a lot of the world” and necessitates a crackdown by the authorities and technology firms.

In an exclusive interview with The Daily Telegraph, he calls for a campaign similar to those that changed attitudes on the environment to educate the public on the threat posed by fabricated online stories.

Made-up news reports trying to promote a particular agenda gained huge traction on social media in the US during the election.

“It has to be ingrained in the schools, it has to be ingrained in the public,” said Mr Cook. “There has to be a massive campaign. We have to think through every demographic.

"We need the modern version of a public-service announcement campaign. It can be done quickly if there is a will.”

The rise of fake news was being driven by unscrupulous firms determined to attract online readers at any cost, he said.

“We are going through this period of time right here where unfortunately some of the people that are winning are the people that spend their time trying to get the most clicks, not tell the most truth,” he said. “It’s killing people’s minds in a way.”

Tech firms, which have been criticised for doing too little, also need to up their game, he said.

“All of us technology companies need to create some tools that help diminish the volume of fake news.

"We must try to squeeze this without stepping on freedom of speech and of the press, but we must also help the reader. Too many of us are just in the complain category right now and haven’t figured out what to do.”

He said that this crackdown would help providers of quality journalism and help drive out clickbait. “The outcome of that is that truthful, reliable, non-sensational, deep news outlets will win,” Mr Cook said.

“The [rise of fake news] is a short-term thing - I don’t believe that people want that at the end of the day.”

A new approach was required in schools, he said. “It’s almost as if a new course is required for the modern kid, for the digital kid.”

But he is optimistic. “In some ways kids will be the easiest to educate. At least before a certain age, they are very much in listen and understand [mode], and they then push their parents to act. We saw this with environmental issues: kids learning at school and coming home and saying why do you have this plastic bottle? Why are you throwing it away?”

In quotes | Tim Cook
Tim Cook has spoken on several topical issues during his busy tour of Europe.

On Apple’s interest in building new offices in France

February 6, speaking to Le Figaro newspaper: “France has always had a special place for Apple. This is the best place to discover and chat with all musicians, graphic designers, designers or photographers who use our products. There is such creative energy.”

On pay equality

February 7, in Berlin, Germany: “I think every company should try to do it. It’s just not right and not fair that women still earn so much less than men.”

On Trump’s travel ban

February 8, at the University of Glasgow: “If we stand and say nothing it’s as if we’re agreeing, that we become a part of it. It’s important to speak out.”

On Brexit

February 9, speaking at Downing Street: “We’re a big believer in the UK – we think you’ll be just fine. Yes, there will be bumps in the road along the way, but the UK’s going to be fine.”

On children being taught coding

February 9, at Woodberry Down Community Primary School in Harringay: “We think coding should be required in every school because it’s as important as any kind of second language.”



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