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Navigating the Post-Post Truth World: Insights from Culture Expert Quynh Mai

In an era characterized by the relentless onslaught of information, discerning the truth from the sea of misinformation has become one of our society’s most pressing challenges.  Enter AI, which can make images and videos on command, and our ability to sift through the noise and anchor ourselves in reality becomes even more daunting.

This urgency is magnified many times over in an election year, where the integrity of our democratic processes hinges on our ability to sift through the noise and anchor ourselves in reality.

At the heart of this evolving landscape is Quynh Mai, CEO & Founder of Qulture. Her insights into the seismic cultural shifts influenced by our dwindling trust in established institutions and the unregulated wilderness of social media platforms offer a beacon for navigating these tumultuous waters.

Here, Mai’s analysis reveals the critical changes and challenges of our post-post truth world and provides practical guidance on how to navigate the ongoing evolution of society.

Cultural Shifts in the Post-Post Truth World

Society has witnessed a profound loss of trust in government, institutions, and media. People are increasingly skeptical about what they read and hear, often perceiving it as biased or false. This skepticism has driven many to seek news and opinions on social media platforms, which they believe to be more authentic and “real” than traditional sources.

Many have turned to TikTok for “on the ground” reporting on the Israeli / Palestine conflict where citizen journalists have created over 48,000 posts on the subject with #israelpalestine delivering hundreds and millions of views.  But scrolling through the content, it is impossible to know what is real or fake news.  On the other side, traditional media is also migrating to the social feed trying to combat the tsunami of fake news.  Washington Post has taken to TikTok to try to impart real news and has been rewarded with 1.7m followers.

However, this shift comes with its own set of challenges as the trust in media continues to erode. The rise of AI-generated content further complicates the landscape, flooding social media with unregulated and often misleading information.

The Challenges of the Post-Truth Era

Social media is inherently unregulated and lacks rigorous fact-checking mechanisms. This has allowed AI to proliferate on these platforms, creating a reality where heavily retouched images, voice simulations, and AI-generated texts blur the lines between what is real and what is fabricated.  The speed of which AI can create fake images is staggering.

A timely example comes from this year’s prestigious Met Ball, where an AI-generated image of Katy Perry walking the red carpet in real time fooled countless people, including her own mother. Perry had to take to Instagram to clarify the truth, highlighting how convincing AI-created content can be. “Mom, the AI got you too, BEWARE”, she wrote in one screenshot message, in reply to her mom complimenting the dress she was wearing.

Deepfakes can be video, images or even sound (Deepfake Drake, for example) and are so hard to spot that many are fooled, especially when seen on a small screen for only a few seconds.

With the upcoming elections, the challenge of discerning truth from falsehood becomes even more critical. In a world where “anything is possible,” distinguishing between reality and AI-generated fiction will only become more difficult.

The Inevitable Evolution of Society

In this evolving digital age, anchoring ourselves in verified truths is not just a necessity but a responsibility we must all shoulder. Navigating the post-post truth world requires a multi-faceted approach that combines legislative action, education, and a critical mindset.

The erosion of trust in traditional media and the rise of AI-generated content necessitate a vigilant and proactive stance from all of us. By implementing these strategies, we can better navigate the complex landscape of information and maintain the integrity of our democratic processes and societal interactions.

Three Strategies to Navigate the Post-Post Truth World

  1. Legislative Measures: AI-generated content needs to be tagged, in a similar way to the warning labels on cigarettes. This labeling should be enforced by law to ensure transparency. While tech companies are making efforts to regulate content and some of them have suggested watermarking, the sheer volume of information necessitates legal incentives to effectively curb the spread of misinformation.
  2. Education and Critical Thinking: Individuals must educate themselves and adopt a detective-like approach to information. This involves checking the original source of content and assessing its credibility. Being skeptical and investigative can help filter out misinformation and verify the authenticity of information.
  3. Verify Before Trusting: Adopt a cautious approach to consuming information. Do not trust anything without verification. If you cannot verify the source or credibility of the content, refrain from believing, sharing, or acting on it. This mindset is particularly crucial in industries like fashion, where retouched and perfect images are the norm, making it harder to detect false content.

Quynh Mai, Founder & CEO of Qulture, a Clio and Webby-winning digital creative agency. Qulture crafts prescient campaigns for global brands including Sephora and Nike, creating innovative digital-first programs, and driving modern business results.