Critics are claiming that fake Facebook news stories influenced the presidential election, however, the claim is impossible to substantiate. While the social media platform is not a news outlet, the default setting for users is the “news feed,” which 44 percent of U.S. adults use to read the latest news.
Facebook users see stories based on previous interactions and algorithms that include profile information, which relies on individuals to decide which news stories were accurate. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently posted about several changes that the social media platform will initiate to crack down on inaccurate information, including making it easier for users to report false news and cracking down on ads that are purposefully misleading. They will also work with fact-checking organizations and begin testing labels for misleading stories, however, Zuckerberg stressed that Facebook will err on the side of free speech.
Even President Obama weighed in on the issue; he was quoted as saying “If we are not serious about facts and what’s true and what’s not, if we can’t discriminate between serious arguments and propaganda, then we have problems.” Despite announcing changes to reduce the amount of fake news on Facebook, Zuckerberg insists that fake news would not influence voters.
The problem is that people share fake news and Facebook relies on giving users what they want, since they are an ad-driven company. It is really up to individuals to question news stories from unreliable sources on any social media platform.