ALÉTHEIA | SHOW THE TRUTH
A social media and networking platform aimed to give individuals access to both viewing and sharing first-hand and reliable news through the eyes of locals of the impacted area, hence, prevent individuals of all age from shaping their opinion based on the ongoing disinformation and intentional propaganda present on today’s social media and public news platforms.
With social media being easily accessible to anyone with an Internet connection nowadays and users getting easily exposed to intentional propaganda and disinformation from an early age, individuals need a platform that will not only share credible but also up-to-date first-hand information/news while eliminating the disinformation and intentional propaganda from its’ user’s feed.
Social Media is everywhere and changes the way we live, what we learn, and what we are exposed to. Because of this, generations of many Millennials and especially Zoomers are shaping their mentality, ideology, norms, and views on important topics based on the propaganda and disinformation that they are being exposed to through social media and biased news on their daily bases. The algorithm behind the user’s feed on today’s social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter allows space for a domino effect which often results in widespread non-credible information and intentional propaganda among users.
With these platforms continuing to be actively used by individuals from an early yet not affectively controlling the spread of disinformation and intentional propaganda, there’s a major risk that current and future generations will continue to shape their mentality, ideology, norms, and views on important topics based on the propaganda and disinformation that they are being exposed to through social media and biased news on their daily bases.
USER PAIN POINTS
As my problem space mostly evolves around zoomers, I conducted an online survey among 27 representatives of Gen Z across North America, Europe, and Eurasia & held 2 user interviews that helped me reveal the following pain points:
- All participants have lost their belief in news being unbiased and reliable in today’s century.
- The discovered news are noted to be biased, one-sided, closed-minded, manipulating, and often judging as generally reported by all participants of the conducted research.
- Gen Z doesn’t feel educated enough about the norms, conditions, and issues happening in foreign countries due to media showing biased, one-sided, and often judging perspective through the posted news.
- Individuals feel that there is no stable platform that is independent of government control to facilitate their search for reliable news, making the process more difficult and uncertain.
- There’s a significant absence of firsthand information which makes posted news questionable to the users.
- 100% of participants agreed that the media often results in their biased thinking towards different issues.
- 32% of participants state that the main reason news sounds biased to them is because they do have an objective standpoint, have lack of reasoning, data, and strong arguments.
- 41% of participants state that the main reason news sounds biased to them is because they express a particular opinion and favour only one side of the story.
- 40% of participants state that the main reason news sounds biased to them is because they lack open mindedness, push others to think the same, and judge others for having different opinions.
- 24% of participants state that the main reason news sounds biased to them because money and politics have a direct influence on news, they have their own agenda of what they want to show, and they say what they are supposed to say to manipulate and brainwash the masses.
- 28% of participants state that the main reason news sounds biased to them is because there’s lack of trustful resources and first-hand information/evidence.
- 58% of participants like to be updated on what’s going on around their area and the world once a day, another 36% like to be updated a few times a week, lastly, 16% check news rarely because they feel like news do not do what it used to, which is to inform.
- While the 21% of participants don’t feel like there’s something that would hold them back from posting trustworthy news themselves, 52% of participants are wary of the judgment of others, while the remaining 27% are wary of the repercussions such as treat from the government’s side and impact on their jobs.
- While 44% of participants do not find that lack of freedom of speech could be stopping them from wanting to share some information about events happening around their area, 56% are afraid of the consequences.
- 68% of participants think it is very important to receive first-hand information and 32% think it’s important.
- 88% of participants prioritize first-hand information from locals of the impacted area over registered news platform, while the other 12% do the opposite.
- 61% caught themselves believing something posted online then finding out it’s misleading sometimes, 22% often, 9% always, and 8% never.
- 48% state that the source plays a deciding role when it comes to defining whether the news is trustworthy or not, 19% value the presence of evidence, 16% value the scope of the stated opinion (many people stating the same thing), 13% prioritize doing more research.
My preliminary user research to validate the problem with disinformation on social media and public news has produces some surprising findings and feedback:
- Criticism and judgment from others is #1 factor stopping individuals from willing to share trustworthy news.
- More than 30% of participants encounter misleading news very often, while about 60% encounter them sometimes.
- Representatives of all generations spent only 15 min on extra research for the news of their interest.
- Both representatives of gen X and z like the user experience of TikTok the most.
- Individuals stop seeking news because they lose their faith in trustworthy information.
- Social media has a major impact on the perspective of Gen Z on specific topics.
LANDING ON THE SOLUTION
According to survey respondents and interviewees, there is no single platform that is independent of government control to facilitate their search for reliable news. Hence individuals either don’t seek out news or perform a strategic search to find reliable and unbiased news, making the process more difficult and uncertain than it would’ve been with our proposed solution.
To find reliable information users state to:
- Use TikTok to search for videos within the topic of their interest that has the highest number of views.
- Use top 5 websites on search engines such as Google, Safari, etc.
- Use news channels on YouTube that are independent of government control.
- Check if their trusted social media influencers are sharing anything about global news.
The conducted research has made it clear that individuals have a tendency to seek sources with the most active audience-scope, sticking to the ideology “the more views/visits, the more reliable”. It is also clear that individuals prefer to consume news in a short-clip format over reading a whole article about it first.
While news in both of these formats is available today, they are present on different platforms, making users go back and forth from one platform to another. Second, even when an individual performs a strategic search and spends a decent amount of time researching reliable news, the found news are noted to be biased, one-sided, closed-minded, manipulating, and often judging as generally reported by all participants of the conducted research. Everyone deserves a safe space, free of judgment and full of honesty/integrity to view and share trustworthy news from the first hands of locals of the impacted area. In other words, everyone deserves to know as well show the truth and not be misled, misinformed, or exposed to intentional propaganda currently present on social media and public news platforms.
EXPLANATION OF SOLUTION
Alētheia is a social media and networking platform aimed to give individuals access to viewing and sharing firsthand and reliable news information from locals of the impacted area. This interactive media platform will allow users from all over the world to post short, strictly “news-specific” clips of the impacted local area as well as attach a short descriptive paragraph to it prior to posting. By restricting users’ ability to only make news’ posts about the current location/country they’re in, adding interaction restrictions, as well as integrating propaganda detecting tools, Alētheia will help its users to see the actual truth behind the story posted by firsthand and reliable source, which in turn will help to prevent individuals of all age from believing the ongoing disinformation and intentional propaganda present on current social media and public news platforms. There is a critical need, market, and desire for this type of product, as heard in user surveys and interviews.
To make the users experience even less time consuming, “filter” feature can be added. This will allow to specify the users search not only based on the news category, distance, or location, but other identifiers as well depending on what users would like to have the most.
Continue to be costumer obsessed.
I plan to take my experience and lessons learned with this project to develop a new product with a team of designers and engineers. If in the future, I am at a point where I have the time and resources to fully execute this, this is definitely a product I would enjoy developing and bringing to life.
Product Manager Learnings:
Arevik K. Arushanyan
- During my time with Co.Lab I understood why being customer obsessed is what will help a PM succeed the most.
- After learning about the “Nasa Case” where they’ve invested $1 million to create a space pen, while Russian astronauts simply used a pencil is stock with me now forever. It was the first concept I learned with Co.Lab which I think will remind me to focus on the actual root of the problem during the ideation stage through my whole PM career.
- “Not everything will go as you plan and that’s okay!”. Product Management is not a solo route, it’s teamwork. Reaching out to developers and designers when I’m confused about “whys and hows” is what will help me grow. Joining their team meeting to observe and listen to their way of thinking is essential in these cases.
- Focusing to creating a qualitative MVPs is the mindset needed for success. It’s better to have a strong base then built a wall brick by brick, and when building a wall, focus on one brick at a time not the complete wall.