Tim Cook calls for a “massive campaign” to combat fake news

Cook leaves 10 Downing Street.
Cook leaves 10 Downing Street.
Image: AP/Matt Dunham
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Apple CEO Tim Cook called for a large-scale effort to combat the spread of false news reports.

“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,” Cook told the UK’s Telegraph. “It’s killing people’s minds in a way.”

Intentionally false news articles that spread over social networks have been blamed for misleading voters in the United States, Germany, Tanzania, and other countries. But the term “fake news” has also been quickly coopted by conservatives maligning legitimate news organizations with which they disagree. US president Donald Trump has applied the term to CNN, which doesn’t traffic in fake news, while spreading false information himself.

Cook didn’t comment on the politics of fake news but called it a critical issue and suggested Apple might do something about it.

“We have to give the consumer tools to help with this,” he told Good Morning Britain. “We’ve got to filter out part of it before it ever gets there without losing the great openness of the internet.”

“It has to be ingrained in the schools, it has to be ingrained in the public,” Cook said in the interview with the Telegraph. “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.”

Facebook has taken the brunt of criticism for helping to spread fake news, though ad networks, many websites, and individuals are also responsible. Apple doesn’t operate a social network, but it does provide a news application to all owners of its iPhone and iPads. That app, called Apple News, heavily emphasizes mainstream news outlets.