Company rejects claim that "fake news" sites influenced the outcome of the 2016 election.
Despite initially rejecting the claim that so-called “fake news” websites on Facebook had any influence on the past presidential election, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the company is taking steps to attempt to halt the spread of such sites by updating its policy on advertising.
The company says its policies now spell out its ban on deceptive and misleading content also applies to fake news. Facebook does not plan to target the actual sites.
In a statement, Facebook said, “We do not integrate or display ads in apps or sites containing content that is illegal, misleading or deceptive, which includes fake news,” according to an article on reuters.com.
Zuckerberg is rejecting the notion that the company influenced the outcome of the election or that the amount of fake news on the site is even a problem. In a blog post over the weekend, the CEO wrote, “Of all the content on Facebook, more than 99 percent of what people see is authentic. Only a very small amount is fake news and hoaxes.”
He added that Facebook already has a procedure in place to allow users to flag fake news and hoax sites, but pledged to continue to work on the issue, cautioning they plan to move very carefully due to the fact the identifying fake versus real news sites if “complicated.”
Still, the issue highlights a real problem, that being that a large number of Americans view Facebook as their primary source of news coverage, hardly for what the site was designed. This coincides with a general mistrust of traditional media news organizations, which many view as biased on one direction or the other.
It certainly seems that Facebook’s algorithms work to direct its users who view sites that offer certain types of content to other similar sites, thus adding to the problem and assisting in the spread of those sites, whether they are fake news sites or funny cat videos.
Many users don’t have the desire to read traditional news organizations web pages or to even be tied to the tv for getting their news and information. And that trend is not likely to subside in the future, as the world becomes more connected to mobile devices.
And with that, stopping fake news or hoax sites from being passed along to thousands of users will certainly become even more “complicated.”