Burriss: What is truth?

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Let me start with what I think is true: information we got from newspapers, magazines, radio and television in the 50s, 60s and 70s was pretty accurate.
All of these media forms had matured, and there was a kind of self-checking process at work, fueled by the competing interests of a limited number of news outlets. So let's see if I have this right: a limited number of outlets; information you could trust.

Today, more and more, I'm reading about media experts trying to figure out how to help the public determine the truth and validity of information available on the Internet. One of the issues is how to verify the identity of people creating all of the web sites, blogs and social networking sites out there. In other words, how do you really know who is saying what?

Unfortunately, the issue gets back to the old problem of access versus security.
All networking sites have at least some minimal standards of identity verification. But all too often these checks and balances have broken down, and ordinary folks, not to mention criminals, have assumed the identities of politicians, sports figures and entertainment celebrities.

Sports figures and movie stars I'm not too concerned about. But in these days of hyper-sensitive individuals it is more important than ever that politicians are really saying the things being posted on-line.

So, just how much security do you want social network sites to provide? There are all sorts of things they could do to make sure you are who you say you are. But every one of these means the service providers are going to be gathering more and more information about you. How much of your privacy, and security, are you willing to give up? After all, the services can't discriminate between ordinary folks and political figures. They rules for one will apply to everyone.
For myself, I go back to the updated versions of the old standbys. They were good 50 years ago, and believe it or not, they are still good today.

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Larry Burriss
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