Facebook has faced intense criticism in the wake of the U.S election, with many arguing that huge volumes of false news spread on the site skewed public perception of the electoral candidates.
Many have asked what role does Facebook played in the election’s sensational outcome.
Founder and CEO of Facebook, Zuckerberg has just outlined plans for controlling the platform in light of Trump’s shocking victory. This comes as a reversal of his declaration earlier that Facebook affecting the course of the election was a “pretty crazy idea.”
The turbulent election called into question the platform’s ability to influence what its 1.79 billion users watch, read and believe and has come under scrutiny Zuckerberg himself can no longer ignore.
Almost half of American adults rely on Facebook as a source of news, according to a study by the Pew Research Center.
Just before the election a false news site called The Denver Guardian spread across the social network with negative and false images about Hillary Clinton, including a claim that an F.B.I agent connected to Hillary Clinton’s email disclosures had murdered his wife and shot himself.
A fake story claiming Pope Francis, a known refugee advocate, endorsed Donald Trump was shared almost a million times, likely visible to tens of millions.
“Its correction was barely heard,” reflected Zeynep Tufecki, an associate professor at the University of North Carolina.
One analysis by Buzzfeed this week found engagement with the above fake news stories intensified significantly in the final three months of the election campaign.
The engagement, measured by shares, reactions and comments of the top 20 stories from fake news sites surpassed that of the top 20 stories from major mainstream news websites. They were found to overwhelmingly advantage Donald Trump.
In outlining new plans to label stories as false, build tools to classify misinformation and work with fact-checking groups, Mark Zuckerberg, it seems can no longer stand in innocence of the platform’s ability to blur perceptions of truth.
“We take misinformation seriously. We know people want accurate information,” Zuckerberg wrote.
He announced his intention to disrupt the economy of fake-news sites proliferating on the platform. It will now take measures to bar fake-news sites from using the company’s ad-selling tools.
In addition Facebook, in an unprecedented move, is turning to outside groups for help in fact checking. Instead of relying on users to report false information, it is exploring warning users by labeling stories as false that have been flagged by third-party sources.
Zuckerberg has emphasised that Facebook has no intention of becoming an arbiter of truth, highlighting how truth, at best, is a flexible notion online.
“We believe in giving people a voice, which means erring on the side of letting people share what they want wherever possible.”