Facebook recently said fake news websites were a growing problem on the platform and vowed to find ways to address it. According to a report, fake news account for less than 1 percent of Facebook content, but misinformation can spread like wildfire on the social media site.
Facebook head Mark Zuckerberg said the website made “significant progress,” but he acknowledged there was room for improvement. He also came with several solutions to the problem such as AI algorithms to detect false news, user-friendly reporting tools, and content warnings.
Fake News at their Finest
Moreover, the platform eliminated fake news website from ad program as soon as a false reporting gained traction across the social networking site. A false story claimed that a FBI agent, who allegedly helped with Hillary email leaks, committed suicide after killing his wife.
Clinton supporters accused Facebook of influencing the U.S. election by ignoring such stories which flooded the trending section. The website which published the story – Denver Guardian – claims Clinton camp plotted to kill the agent and cover it up as a murder-suicide. Facebook users shared the story 568,000 times.
And the story is not dead. A fake news site dubbed “Viral Liberty” recently reposted it as a “BREAKING” news. The story accrued 127,680 shares in days. However, fake news is not a Facebook-only problem. Twitter and Google face similar problems and mistakenly allowed fake news to go viral.
Analysts noted that there is a so-called sharing-without-reading phenomenon which has reached outrageous levels within liberal circles as well. For instance, liberals share without reading fake news such as “Trump Confirms That He Just Googled Obamacare” on a daily basis.
Mathematical Algorithms Not as Reliable as Humans
Nevertheless, 44 percent of Americans reportedly take their news from Facebook. So, the site has a responsibility to address the issue. Facebook developers explained that the problem persists because the site focuses on engineering. So, it has so far failed to build tools to detect false content.
Because of the engineering-first culture, fake news websites were able to exploit the News Feed feature to promote their articles earlier this year leading to a huge scandal. Several engineers lost their jobs, but the core problem was that there were no human editors to check the trustworthiness of the news sources.
Facebook refused to hire human editors to vet news on the platform because it doesn’t want to become a media company. The social media giant claims it is technology company with no editorial voice and it plans to stay that way.
Some experts, on the other hand, believe Facebook will gradually morph into a media company. But meantime, they must ensure to provide legit information to the users interested in the news consumption tool.
Using News Feed editors would be very similar to a front page editor from traditional news sites. The front page editor decides for users what news are most relevant to read on a particular day. And that job currently landed in the hands of Zuckerberg for millions of users worldwide.
“He has the job but he doesn’t want it,”
one critic noted.
Image Source: Pixabay