We now live in a post-truth world. Or so we’ve been told.
The word ‘post-truth’ is actually a few years old but has become part of the zeitgeist once again thanks to the EU referendum and the US presidential election.
The Oxford English Dictionary even made it the word of 2016. It describes it as “when objective facts are less influential than appeals of emotion.”
Others say there has always been a whiff of post-truth to politics and social media has made it more obvious. Particularly the fake news websites that have appeared in recent years which make people all too keen share fake stories out of shock and fear.
Playing devil’s advocate and supposing we are living in a post-truth world. Is SEO (search engine optimisation) more important than ever to ensure that the facts are presented whenever someone seeks out information?
People use social and search for different reasons. We use social media to share information that charges us emotionally, usually in outrage.
We use search to seek out information and facts usually with a rational mind.
Founder of BuzzFeed, Jonah Peretti, who mastered the psychology of social sharing once said (and I’m paraphrasing here) “People share publicly in social media what they want other to see. They use Google to find things they don’t want to people know they’re looking for.”
Let’s say you’re with a friend having a casual conversation about politics (as you do). You get into the nitty details around how much is spent on overseas aid.
He gives you a figure that seems wildly too high. He’s adamant that it’s correct though but he can’t remember where he heard it.
Turns out he read it in social media. Twitter to be exact. Someone shared a (fake) news article which he didn’t click on. He didn’t need to as he could read the headlines and excerpt in the Twitter card.
In times like these you usually use a search engine which are pretty brilliant at prioritising the facts at the top of the results.
You google ‘overseas aid budget’ and voila, you’re presented with the actual figure and your friend is humbled.
There’s one example of how SEO can help in this so-called post-truth world. I’m sure there are many more.