There’s a simple solution to Facebook’s fake news problem

0 Posted by - 16th November 2016 - Technology

There’s a simple solution to Facebook’s fake news problem

It’s almost as if Mark Zuckerberg could hear the sound of furious journalists pounding away on keys. Or, more likely, he read one of the countless pieces last week that sought to expose Facebook’s role in last week’s election. Either way, he’s responded to the media outcry that Facebook was directly responsible for Trump’s win.

I ranted about this very thing after the election last week, but it bears repeating: Facebook isn’t responsible for Trump’s ascension to power, at least not directly.

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That’s not a fair burden to place on the shoulders of a platform meant to facilitate information sharing. If you’d like an easier argument to make, blame the algorithmic timeline that forces each of us into an echo chamber of similar world views. Blame the decision to cut human editors. Blame Facebook’s decision to allow pages that deliberately misrepresent a news story (or make one up entirely) to operate with impunity.

For every argument Zuckerberg makes about being a platform to promote free speech and open views, I can make another about conscious misrepresentation and the promotion of libelous material. And his argument that “truth” is complicated is falling on deaf ears.

This is an area where I believe we must proceed very carefully though. 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.

He’s not wrong. Truth is a complicated matter and even major publications get it wrong from time-to-time. But we’re not seekign perfection. Something, anything, would be a step in the right direction. A simple law of averages approach would work wonders. Once your content slips over a certain percentage of stories deemed false, Facebook suspends your page. Keep it up and you’ll be deleted from the platform entirely.

Arguing that Facebook isn’t at fault for giving a platform to the masses is fair. Arguing that it shoulders no responsibility in how they use it, well, isn’t.