Fake News and its Implications

I think all the fake news sites and their large following is very scary. In a time where people are looking to only reaffirm their believes through news, fake news take on an even bigger role. One fake news reporter said, “I think trump is in the White House because of me. His followers don’t fact-check anything- they’ll post everything, believe anything.” With this constant circulation of fake news through those who don’t fact-check, it is extremely possible that they played an enormous role in the election results. Especially as exit poll numbers come out showing that many of Trumps supporters were uneducated and likely to fall victim of these fake news stories. Although Mark Zuckeberg said that the fake news stories were not bias toward one candidate, Buzzfeed news found that of the top 20 top-performing false election stories, all but three were overtly pro-Donald Trump or anti-Hilary Clinton. These fake news stories are especially problematic when important figures such as Donald Trump’s son or his campaign manager tweet links to these false articles. Corey Lewandowski, as Trump’s then campaign manager, is a person who is looked to as an authority of sorts. It would be easy for someone to believe a story shared by someone so high up in the Trump campaign without second guessing it. The sharing of fake news is a problem of vast concern because with this constant feed of fake news, opinions and more importantly votes in an election can be swayed based on fake propaganda. Two of the top preforming hits were claiming Clinton sold weapons to ISIS and a hoax claiming the pope endorsed Trump. With the fear surrounding ISIS it is easy to imagine that linking Clinton to ISIS could have huge implications for those unwilling to fact-check their stories.

Although I can understand Mark Zuckerberg’s concern that deciding what is truth is very challenging. Zuckerberg stated, “Identifying the ‘truth’ is complicated. While some hoaxes can be completely debunked, a greater amount of content, including from mainstream sources, often gets the basic idea right but some details wrong or omitted.” For Facebook to attempt to be the voice of reason in terms of what is true would be an extremely difficult and controversial job. But, it is a job that someone must do and Facebook has created a team to try to make Facebook a site for real news.

Banning hoax sites I believe is a viable option moving forward. When hoax news stories are getting more views than real stories we have a problem. Buzzfeed news found that during the election a story by Ending the Fed titled “Pope Francis Shocks World, Endorses Donald Trump for President, Released Statement” had one hundred thousands more views than the top story out of the “Top 5 Mainstream Election Stories”. Facebook as a platform make the proliferation of fake news even easier as articles are shared and passed on to hundreds of your friends with little accountability. Fake news and what to do about it will be a question moving forward as Facebook is at the center of providing and sharing news.

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