The result of the U.S. presidential election has been disappointing to many. And, during the aftermath of the campaigns, an important question has surfaced; is a technology a giant to blame?
Fake news has been around for a long while now. The idea of spreading lies with twists and big stretches certainly isn’t a new idea. But through the 2016 presidential campaign, have we as a country truly underestimated the impact of social media sites?
Facebook has recently come under limelight for becoming a center of conspiracies for fake news spreading and circulating. Though Facebook wasn’t meant to be a news outlet, further research has revealed that almost 45% of Americans get their news from this site.
As stated by Solon, Olivia, “Currently, the truth of a piece of content is less important than whether it is shared, liked, and monetized. These ‘engagement’ metrics distort the media landscape, allowing clickbait, hyperbole and misinformation to proliferate. And on Facebook’s voracious news feed, the emphasis is on the quantity of posts, not spending time on powerful, authoritative, well-researched journalism.” People read and see what they want to see, and it has been separated into two different feeds, red and blue.
Though it may not be thought of at first, these large corporate companies are tearing communities apart. Problems have arose due to fake news. Surprisingly, right wing (usually republican) political news publishers haven’t told the complete truth. 38% of posts included false or misleading information. However, left wing (usually democratic) political news outlets aren’t much better. 19% of their posts included false or misleading information.
At this point, can we really trust the news we see? Especially present during the Trump campaign, conspiracies formed and spread about climate change as a hoax, and traditional media corruption. Many news pages have done this for their own benefit, at the expense of their own viewers. Their main purpose is the make money from advertisements, if they garner enough attention from others, hence the myriad of clickbait titles.
And all this isn’t without consequences. These fake news articles are written and directed towards certain groups of people. News is written to try to get people frustrated and riled up. This is a problem because it approximately takes around 13 hours for fake news to get debunked. This gap leaves false information to spread like wildfire, ultimately allowing hundreds of thousands, possibly even millions to read it.
Many people may ask, why aren’t their algorithms or teams preventing this from happening? Well, the solution isn’t as simple as you may think. Many fixes have been tried, though none of them, yet, have been proven successful. Some like allowing readers to spot out and report fake news, hiring editors, and eventually implementing an algorithm in place of editors have been tried. However, it has been realized that the public wasn’t that successful in distinguishing between the real and the fake, and the editors were fired because they were found more biased over republicans.
This negative situation has led to Facebook getting criticized. Though they can see that the media company is trying, many are also doubting them. Many view the site as no longer a reliable source. “It’s no longer just a technology company, but a media company,” states Solon. Facebook is trying to solve this problem, but until then, normal people like you and me just have to wait and see if the problem is going to be solved.