This outcome could be regarded as useful in some ways, because it made people more suspicious in an environment where fake users may operate. From another perspective, however, it may gradually erode the very nature of how we communicate.
In general, we tend to operate on a default assumption that other people are basically truthful and trustworthy. The growth in fake profiles and other artificial online content raises the question of how much their presence and our knowledge about them can alter this “truth default” state, eventually eroding social trust.
CHANGING OUR DEFAULTS
The transition to a world where what’s real is indistinguishable from what’s not could also shift the cultural landscape from being primarily truthful to being primarily artificial and deceptive.
If we are regularly questioning the truthfulness of what we experience online, it might require us to re-deploy our mental effort from the processing of the messages themselves to the processing of the messenger’s identity. In other words, the widespread use of highly realistic, yet artificial, online content could require us to think differently – in ways we hadn’t expected to.
In psychology, we use a term called “reality monitoring” for how we correctly identify whether something is coming from the external world or from within our brains.
The advance of technologies that can produce fake, yet highly realistic, faces, images and video calls means reality monitoring must be based on information other than our own judgments. It also calls for a broader discussion of whether humankind can still afford to default to truth.