Fake News (is) on Facebook.

During the past election season (November of 2016), I would often find myself astonished  by the titles of news articles people would post on Facebook. The topics of these sensational articles varied from doomsday epics, crazy claims about Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Donald Trump, and also some very interesting international news. Upon visiting the NPR website this morning, I found a few interesting articles about this very issue. The first is a correspondence between David Folkenflik, an NPR media correspondent and journalist, and Linda Wertheimer, NPR’s senior national correspondent. The Link to the transcript can be found here: http://www.npr.org/2016/11/19/502717970/mark-zuckerberg-addresses-fake-news-on-facebook.

To briefly summarize, their conversation mainly deals with Mark Zuckerberg’s stance on the particular issue, which is the fact he believes people should be able to post whatever they so choose to on Facebook, but he also believes that Facebook needs to have more correct and accurate content, a rather paradoxical stance. Folkenflik states that because Facebook’s influence is just as, if not more far-reaching than TV and other more traditional forms of news, it should be filtered and looked at with the same scrutiny we look at other sources of news with. Folkenflik does acknowledge that Zuckerberg has announced that he is going to start using outside companies, like Snopes or PolitiFact to filter out the spread of inaccurate information.

A second article I found, is actually under the same link I attached above if you scroll down the page. This article is by Bill Chappell, a writer and producer for NPR. This article mainly focuses on the strategies Zuckerberg is taking on limiting the spread of fake news (even though he does point out that if people just used their brains when reading articles, none of this would be a an issue). A few of the methods Zuckerberg plans on using to stop the spread of fake news include ways to curb the financial incentive from the spread of “viral” fake news, and also ways to flag articles as untrue, but still leave them on the website.

For me, these two articles bring up a very interesting issue, and one that I knew existed, but never consciously thought about before, which is how Facebook can act as a way to spread significant amounts of inaccurate and misinformed sensationalist news, and how the roles of CEOs of social media companies roles must now include making sure their companies aren’t contributing to the problem of misinforming the public. This relates back to our class discussions when we were talking of a people who don’t know their general will. It also reminds me of how we discussed the concept Schmitt brought up, with how debating an issue doesn’t really lead to a logical solution (think about all the times you see illogical arguments on comments in Facebook). I will be very curious to see how Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg tackle these challenges in the months and years to come!

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2 Responses to Fake News (is) on Facebook.

  1. jlau4 says:

    Fake News and the manipulation of the truth in modern media is indeed a big problem. Aside from the blatant lies and accusations that are being thrown around to gain the interest of the uneducated viewer, the biggest issue is when the large scale news networks manipulate current events to fit the political views and style of the network.
    Often times when watching reports on Fox, CNN, NY Times, and any other big name mediums, they’ll filter out or gloss over parts that don’t fit the conservative or liberal message the network is trying to convey. This results in many different variations of the same story, and it makes finding out the truth very difficult, and when you have people who only follow one news station or only read from one newsletter, they’ll believe in these absolutes without surveying all media outlets to try and formulate the real truth. I’ve attached a link to an article that has a chart showing the “truthness” of a bunch of current news sources and shows where they lie politically.
    http://www.marketwatch.com/story/how-does-your-favorite-news-source-rate-on-the-truthiness-scale-consult-this-chart-2016-12-15
    Fake news extends beyond lies (alternative facts), it also embodies the reporters who skew data and manipulate partial truths to fit the mold they need it to.

  2. agasanova says:

    It’s a wonder on how fake news can happen. I have always been concerned about how reporters lie just to get people to read their articles or watch their news segment. I think with social media, fake news has intensified mostly because people don’t know what to watch out. Some people can’t tell between real news and fake news and then it spreads. I also wonder how much opinion plays a role in this. Many people, when they share an article on facebook, they add their opinion. If the article gets shared around, people might eventually start thinking that what was once the opinion, might be the actual fact. I’m not saying that this is true, but it’s something to think about. I’m also curious to see how and if Zuckerberg will actually fix the problem of fake news.

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