Facebook Fake News Controversy

Facebook Fake News Controversy

Part of a series on Facebook / Meta. [View Related Entries]

Updated Dec 16, 2016 at 03:19PM EST by Don.

Added Nov 17, 2016 at 12:59PM EST by Adam.

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The Facebook Fake News Controversy describes the conversation surrounding social media site Facebook's propensity to promote news articles with sensationalist headlines and which contain false information in users' timelines. The controversy drew particular attention following the election of Donald Trump, as critics suggested the false information spread on fake news sites with conservative leanings may have helped him win the election.


On October 12th, 2016, The Washington Post[7] published an article addressing the prevalence of fake news stories that were promoted by Facebook's Trending feature, which reported that at least five fake stories had been identified as trending content by the social network's algorithm during its three-week study. On October 26th, BuzzFeed News[4] ran an investigative article similarly highlighting the growing number of fake news stories in high-volume circulation on Facebook since the company dissolved its team of human news editors. On November 3rd, BuzzFeed News[5] published another report on its finding of at least 140 pro-Trump U.S. political news sites that had been launched by various locals in the town of Veles, Macedonia over the past year.

Hillary's Lawyer May Have Exposed Entire Email Server To China Conservative News Politics by admin - October 22, 2016 That headline should infuriate you. Hillary's Lawyer May Have Exposed Entire Email Server to China. Imagine how the media and Congressional Democrats would react had Condoleezza Rice's lawyer done the same thing if she were in Clinton's situation. It would be pandemonium. Check this out.. .From The Blaze: Using a brand of laptop that's been banned New Bombshell, This Is The End For Her: Hillary Disclosed Classified Secrets To Foreign Leaders For Cash! MAILS:HRC DISCUSSED BIN LADEN RAID IN SPEECHES The leaked e-mails from WikiLeaks revealed that Hillary Clinton shared classified information with some Canadian businessman about the investigation and the killing of Osama Bin Laden, according to World News Politics. Via UConservative CHIEF INTELLIGENCE... Thousands Of Fake Ballot Slips Found Marked For Hillary Clinton! TRUMP WAS RIGHT! BALLOT BALLOT BOX New reports have surfaced which say that "tens of thousands” of fraudulent ballot slips have been found in a downtown Columbus, Ohio warehouse. In addition, the slips were pre-marked for Hillary and other Democratic candidates. VIA Your... BoX BALLOT BOX BALLOT BOX Boom! Wikileaks Drops 1 Last Bomb On Hillary, It's Over Folks, She Can Quit Now, This Is It! Hillary wants Obamacare to fail! Yep! The biggest project of Barack Obama, her biggest supporter at this moment! And why she wanted that? So that can be replaced with more socialist program called single-payer program.. Exclusive-Danney Williams: President Bill Clinton Knows The Truth, I Am His Son: Arkansas Man Demands Paternity Test Conservative News Politics by admin - October 22, 2016 Danney Williams The man claiming to be the son of former President Bill Clinton told Breitbart News Wednesday he wants his father to step up and be man enough to acknowledge him. "T have always wanted him to step up-for 30 years-you know? I have really been trying to figure this out-my whole


On November 9th, 2016, the day that Donald Trump was declared the winner of the 2016 United States presidential election, New York Magazine[1] ran an article titled "Donald Trump Won Because of Facebook," which sharply criticized Facebook's inability or neglect to contain the viral spread of hoaxes or fake news stories about the candidates as a major factor that shaped the public opinion of the voters and influenced the outcome of the election. Furthermore, the article alleged that Facebook ultimately empowered Donald Trump's stature by allowing the circulation of stories from partisan and opinionated news sites that are mainly driven by for-profit agendas rather than journalism.

Facebook Response

On November 10th, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg[6] flat out dismissed the accusations as a "crazy idea" while speaking at the Technonomy conference in Half Moon Bay, California.

“Personally I think the idea that fake news on Facebook, which is a very small amount of the content, influenced the election in any way -- I think is a pretty crazy idea. Voters make decisions based on their lived experience.”

He later added in a lengthy Facebook post:[8]

“Of all the content on Facebook, more than 99% of what people see is authentic. Only a very small amount is fake news and hoaxes. Overall, this makes it extremely unlikely hoaxes changed the outcome of this election in one direction or the other… I am confident we can find ways for our community to tell us what content is most meaningful, but I believe we must be extremely cautious about becoming arbiters of truth ourselves.”

However, it was revealed that Facebook employees had previously worked to stop the spread of fake news in May with a fake news-identifying extension that never was put to use for fear of conservative backlash.[9] Dissatisfied with Zuckerberg's deflection to the post-election criticism, Facebook employees were reported on November 15th to have formed a "secret task force" to combat the spread of fake news.[10]

Meanwhile, Google and Facebook announced an endeavor to stop running ad-selling software on fake news sites.[11]

List of Fake News Sites

Responding to the controversy, professor Melissa Zimdars created a Google Doc[12] with an extensive list of websites that give false, sensationalist, clickbait-y, and satirical news for people to identify, along with a categorization system so that people may differentiate. The Daily Dot[13] covered the list on November 16th and posted the 130 sites Zimdars listed.

Washington Post Article

On November 17th, 2016, The Washington Post[14] posted an interview with a fake Facebook news writer named Paul Horner, who took responsibility for Trump's election.

"My sites were picked up by Trump supporters all the time. I think Trump is in the White House because of me. His followers don’t fact-check anything -- they’ll post everything, believe anything. His campaign manager posted my story about a protester getting paid $3,500 as fact. Like, I made that up. I posted a fake ad on Craigslist."

Facebook's Factchecking Program

On December 15th, 2016, Facebook[16] announced initiatives to address "hoaxes and fake news" spread on the platform, which included an improved flagging system to report a story as "fake news." Additionally, they announced a new fact checking program working with various "third-party fact checking organizations" who had signed Poynter's International Fact Checking Code of Principles, who would be able to flag specific stories as fake on Facebook news feed timelines.

That day, BuzzFeed[15] published an article about the announcement, noting that five U.S.-based organizations had signed on as Facebook fact checkers, including PolitiFact, FactCheck.org, Snopes, The Washington Post and ABC News. The following day, Vox[17] and Vanity Fair[18] published articles about the conservative backlash to the news, reporting that many on the right were wary of Facebook fact checkers suppressing conservative voices.

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Great, so now all that people need to do to is massively flag legitimate news about the opposition to label them as fake. Or create fake positive news about the opposition and immediately flag those as fake. Both undermine a politician's reputation just as much as regular fake news.

Good going there, Facebook. Making progress YouTube Heroes style.


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