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!