Let's Get Facebook to Fact Check Shared News
A recent Pew study determined that 62% of Americans get their news from social media; this makes Facebook one of the most widely used sources of news in the country. The stories you see are curated by your friends, their shares, and a complex algorithm that shows you the kind of news that suits your interests, but makes no promise as to the quality of the news you see.
In the media over-saturation we all experienced this last election, Facebook's failure to properly vet and fact check the news it distributes created a vacuum of facts that became filled with exaggerations, falsehoods, and outright lies from both sides of the aisle (for example, Trump never said Republicans are the "dumbest group of voters on the planet", and a Clinton indictment was never "likely"). There is evidence to suggest this had a major impact in the outcome of the 2016 presidential election (http://www.cnbc.com/2016/11/16/more-facebook-users-engaged-with-top-fake-election-news-than-most-popular-real-reporting-report-says.html).
Whatever your preferred source of news, it will always be inherently biased on some level. And that is what it is. But a certain level of factual accuracy transcends bias and political affiliation. When it comes to political issues in the information age, the truth is the most important thing. We have a right to know when we are being told something that simply isn't true.
As a national curator of news, Facebook has a responsibility to clearly identify articles by the likes of The New York Times and Chicago Tribune from those of BuzzFeed and The Onion. How many times have you shared an article from The Onion, and had at least one friend comment, "Is this real?"
Being able to win an election on a platform of lies and deception is dangerous. Having the right to be informed is as important as your right to vote. If we can't hold all media outlets to their journalistic integrity, we should at least be able to hold the news distributors accountable for how they are presented. Regardless of your political affiliation, we should all want to root our convictions in facts.
As of November 14, Facebook has agreed to prevent fake or misleading news stories from running as advertisements, but this isn't far enough. Per a recent Business Insider article (http://www.businessinsider.in/It-only-took-36-hours-for-these-students-to-solve-Facebooks-fake-news-problem/articleshow/55426656.cms) three Princeton University students recently developed a Chrome Extension that does real time fact checking on news content. This technology already exists.
We ask that Facebook differentiate posts and articles from factually credible news organizations from those that are not. We ask that they implement real time fact-checking alongside posts from news and media outlets, so that users are always presented with the truth, and citations to support them. There are no politics or bias to consider here. Only the facts.
I am not affiliated with any group or political organization. I'm just an American who values the truth. Real time fact checking on this scale is possible. Let's make this happen!
Today: Jay is counting on you
Jay Johnson needs your help with “Demand Facebook Fact Check Shared News and Media”. Join Jay and 16 supporters today.