Pages 5 (1027 words)
Since the 2016 US presidential election, fake news has become widely recognized as a grave issue. According to Buzzfeed’s Craig Silverman, the top 20 fake stories about the election on Facebook received more engagement than the top 20 real stories from 19 major news outlets (Chang). Although Facebook has been fighting fake news, the war is far from over. Facebook should implement a zero-tolerance policy on fake news.
A Zero-Tolerance Policy Results in a Better Reputation
A zero-tolerance policy would have a net positive impact on Facebook’s reputation by garnering praise and preventing potential controversies.
Users Cannot Be Trusted to Recognize Fake News
Facebook users do not verify their sources and therefore Facebook cannot trust them to stop spreading fake news. A zero-tolerance policy would shift the burden of recognizing fake news from the users to Facebook.
- According to a study done by Zignal Labs, “44% of Americans who read news articles on social media admit they don’t always fact check the news they share, comment, or like” (A Report on the Spread of Fake News). Unless a person checks a news source’s facts for accuracy, they cannot be certain the article has not omitted details or fabricated events. Since half of social media users do not fact check their news, Facebook cannot trust its users to avoid sharing fake news.
- According to a study done by computer scientists at the French National Institute and Columbia University, social media users do not click on 59% of the news article links they share (Maksym). This heavily implies that most social media users share news articles before reading them. It is impossible to tell if a story is fake based on the title alone, so Facebook has no reason to trust its users to recognize fake news.
- A study led by The Media Insight Project found that the main factor in influencing Facebook users to trust and share a news article is the person who shared it with them rather than the news organization that published it (‘Who Shared It?’ How Americans Decide What News to Trust on Social Media). This means that a person is more likely to assume a fake story is true if a friend shared it. However, this is lazy thinking as the person sharing the story has no bearing on the story’s accuracy. As a result, it would be foolish of Facebook to trust its users to recognize false headlines.
A Zero-Tolerance Policy Results in a Happier Userbase
Banning fake news would make Facebook users happier by eliminating a source of negativity.
- Some common purposes of fake news are to incite hate, mistrust, and/or fights between certain groups of people. How can Facebook users connect when malicious people use fake news to drive them apart? No one can be happy and angry at the same time. Banning fake news can decrease uncivil discourse and increase the number of happy users.
- A study from the Manchester Metropolitan University found that people “who do not question the reliability of information tend to demonstrate unhealthy symptoms of physical and mental stress” (Fake News Is ‘Bad for Your Heart and Health’). This study proves that fake news is a source of stress in people’s lives. Removing misinformative content can help destress users and lead to a happier user base.
- People generally feel upset or disappointed upon realizing a source of uplifting news is fake. They may feel taken advantage of or cheated. Many negative emotions encompass deception. However, a ban on fake news can prevent people from feeling duped in the first place.
Facebook should take steps to implement a zero-tolerance policy on fake news. A stricter algorithm can detect when users are posting news-related content and whether the content contains misinformation or not. The algorithm can then block the content regardless of the content’s intent. This could lead to Facebook winning the war on fake news.
- A Report on the Spread of Fake News. Zignal Labs, Harris Poll, 2017, A Report on the Spread of Fake News.
- Chang, Juju, et al. “When Fake News Stories Make Real News Headlines.” ABC News, ABC News Network, 29 Nov. 2016, abcnews.go.com/Technology/fake-news-stories-make-real-news-headlines/story?id=43845383.
- “Fake News Is ‘Bad for Your Heart and Health’.” Manchester Metropolitan University, Information Literacy Group, www2.mmu.ac.UK/news-and-events/news/story/7949/.
- Hern, Alex. “Mark Zuckerberg’s Remarks on Holocaust Denial ‘Irresponsible’.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 19 July 2018, www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/jul/19/mark-Zuckerberg-holocaust-denial-facebook-remarks-offensive.
- Maksym Gabielkov, Arthi Ramachandran, Augustin Chaintreau, Arnaud Legout. Social Clicks: What and Who Gets Read on Twitter?. ACM SIGMETRICS / IFIP Performance 2016, Jun 2016, Antibes Juan-les-Pins, France. 2016. hal.inria.fr/hal-01281190
- Silverman, Craig. “Despite Its Efforts, Facebook Is Still The Home Of Hugely Viral Fake News.” BuzzFeed News, BuzzFeed News, 30 Dec. 2018, www.buzzfeednews.com/article/craigsilverman/facebook-fake-news-hits-2018.
- “State of the First Amendment.” Freedom Forum Institute, Fors Marsh Group, www.freedomforuminstitute.org/first-amendment-center/state-of-the-first-amendment/.
- “’ Who Shared It?’ How Americans Decide What News to Trust on Social Media.” American Press Institute, 24 May 2017, www.americanpressinstitute.org/publications/reports/survey-research/trust-social-media/.