5 Reasons Why Facebook Has Become a Major Fake News Channel

How our beloved social media flourish the growth of misleading information within its platform

Toa Heftiba — Unsplash.com

Fake news and Facebook–it may have seemed irrelevant to relate both subjects around four or five years ago but today it’s an occurrence that happens everyday worldwide. Every Facebook user knows that a considerable number of articles in their news feed are fake nowadays.

Back then, Facebook was a social media platform aimed to connect us with our friends and family online as its primary usage is to provide a medium for people to casually interact with each other, no one would have thought that this platform would evolve into one of the biggest fake news medium. Overlooking the previous United States’ presidential election in the dawn of 2016, I became quite overwhelmed by the staggering amount of fake news posted on Facebook whether it is Hillary Clinton selling weapons to ISIS or Clinton taking money from an unknown source. These fabricated news led to the negative views of Clinton. Therefore, I began to question myself, why has Facebook become a major fake news channel?

1. It’s the biggest online mass communication medium

With 1.94 billion monthly active users, Facebook holds the predicate for the biggest social media platform. Facebook’s tremendous amount of users are an easy target for fake news agents to spread their propaganda easily. Besides that, its also a lot easier for them to spread their ideas into Facebook’s extensive global users in comparison to a more localised traditional media like newspaper or television.

2. Utilizing Facebook is free of charge

Apart from legitimate Facebook advertisement that obviously aren’t free, posting anything on Facebook is costless whether you upload pictures, post a status or share news articles. This brilliant opportunity is harnessed by those fake news agents to spread their indoctrination without costing them at all, giving them more freedom to intensify their propaganda’s transmission. Moreover, as Facebook holds the biggest online user, it further makes Facebook a fertile ground to spread fabricated news.

3. Facebook enables fake news agent to target their publication

There is a crucial feature of Facebook that have may not been realised by the majority of its users but actually plays an imperative role: Facebook Algorithm. According to Hootsuite, “Facebook algorithm determines what any one of those users sees in their News Feed at a given time.” Furthermore, “Facebook has said that the average user has access to more than 1,500 posts per day but only looks at 300. The Facebook algorithm is the thousands of factors, or signals, that Facebook uses to determine which posts should be among the 300 that gets served up in a user’s News Feed.” As Facebook’s algorithm enable its users to consume their desired post, it allows the fake news agents to direct their content towards their prospective audiences, inducing a higher penetration rate of their propaganda.

A headline from a conspiratorial website — cited from Telegraph.co.uk

4. Freedom of speech and expression

Facebook is a social platform that puts forward the freedom of speech. As everyone within Facebook are allowed to freely express their thoughts and ideas, it gives a bigger opportunity for users to share things that they like which might be from the fake news agents. Furthermore, this small patch within Facebook’s user experience might be exploited by propagandist to spread their thoughts freely and legally.

5. Facebook’s vast population of Baby-Boomer generations are prone to fake news

It is commonly known that older generation are the primary users of Facebook while the younger generation are known to use other–and newer–social medias such as Snapchat and Instagram. These phenomena occur because the older generation are less tech savvy than the younger, causing them to stay in Facebook amidst of the extensive growth of new social medias. As these older generation–usually the baby boomer generation–are less aware with technological advances, they are more prone to believe fake news due to their inability to verify the authenticity of the article. They are, therefore, are more affected by fake news rather than the younger generation.

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