The Exchange

Monday - Friday, 1:00 - 2:00 PM ET
The Exchange

Kelly Evans: Get "literate" now or forever be silenced

Share
CNBC's Kelly Evans
CNBC

There is so much I want to talk about!! Tesla! The yield curve! The housing market! The $1T tech titans! How I got on TikTok ("realkellyevans")! Etc., etc., etc. Fortunately (for me, at least), I'm back full time Monday both on-air and in your inbox to do just that.

And that's why my choice today of what I'd like to quickly remark about may come as a surprise: we urgently need a national program of news literacy. Stay with me! I know this sounds boring. But it's not.

Did you see that Elizabeth Warren proposed yesterday to criminalize "disinformation" that is spread online as it relates to voting and elections? Here's the key part (at the way bottom): "I will push for new laws that impose tough civil and criminal penalties for knowingly disseminating this kind of [false voting day] information."

But as David Harsanyi points out in today's New York Post, "It's the citizen's job, not Congress's, to find reliable sources of information...[and] offer arguments that debunk the others' lies." My point is that Americans need to have crystal clear knowledge, when browsing the "news" online, or getting texts of unclear origin, of where exactly this information is coming from--and, if they don't know, to ignore it altogether. Much like we've all learned to do with spam calls.

This is not a new idea--there are companies now dedicated to this effort of separating the wheat from the chaff, so to speak, as it relates to trustworthy providers of information. At the very least, though, you need to know where the item you're reading came from. Or at least know if you don't know, and proceed with according caution.

So, if Big Tech really wants to protect Americans (and itself from regulatory interference), it could actually play a key role in encouraging transparency here. Why can't I hover over a source provider or hyperlink and immediately see the breadcrumb trail of where the information originally came from? A kind of news blockchain, if you will. Then I can more quickly figure out for myself which providers are trustworthy and which are not.

Warren's plan, in fact, does also push for exactly this kind of transparency, saying Big Tech needs to more clearly label and, where appropriate, flag the content being shared on its platforms. Facebook, for instance, hasn't yet followed through on its pledge to label content created by state-controlled organizations, as Warren points out. If it's having trouble doing so, it should explain itself. Otherwise, let's get going already.

There's more at stake here than you might think: either Big Tech helps Americans become better-informed, more responsible citizens able to think for ourselves, or the Big Censorship era--where politically incorrect "disinformation" could just as easily be criminalized--will soon be upon us.

See you on Monday!!

Kelly

Twitter: @KellyCNBC

Instagram: @realkellyevans

P.S. The Exchange is now a podcast! Click to subscribe.

P.P.S. And we'll have more exciting podcast news to share soon :-)