Facebook Needs to do More to Stop Fake News

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We've all heard of fake news. We're all sick of fake news. But Facebook isn't doing enough to stop it.

The profiteering schemes to confuse and bait Americans with false political news was outed before the election. Afterward, analysis broke down what kind of an impact it had. 

And even after the election, these misleading scams continue to exist. There are countless pages with hundreds of thousands of followers posting headlines like:

These fake news stories hurt democracy and they hurt America. They push people further to their ideological corners and make it difficult for people to connect--which goes directly against Facebook's mission. 

And now the term is being used so loosely it risks losing its significance.

With new technology comes new problems and responsibilities. And as a company, it can be hard to step back and see the problem. AOL was famously slow and reluctant to acknowledge the problem of sex trafficking and child pornography on their platform. Twitter let internet trolls dominate their platform before finally making the hard choice to do something about it. In both cases, to outsiders, acting fast and decisively seemed obvious.

Facebook must do more to quickly and swiftly address the problem of fake news on their platform before this becomes a bigger blight on their business and credibility. Morally, it's what's right for the country. Financially, it keeps the site trustworthy and on-mission.

At the end of 2016, they announced a partnership with a third-party fact-checking organization and a "Flag a Fake News" button, but these policies do not do enough.

  • The notification that a site is a hoax happens only on Click/Tap. But Facebook knows that even showing users a headline or image can influence decisions. In fact, they built their business on it by selling ads that way.
  • Facebook provided no user education on the feature. Users are alerted constantly about new stickers in messenger. Educating users on how to keep Facebook trustworthy should be the top priority.
  • Facebook is not moving quickly enough to flag sites as Hoaxes. There are many sites that are clear perpetrators of only fake news, and many Pages that exist only to promote those stories. The sites need to be flagged faster and the pages suspended.
  • Violating users need to be banned. Yes, there are ways around this, but blocking IP addresses, phone numbers, and emails is at least a step in the right direction.

We ask that Facebook steps up to shut down these pages, block these sites, and take their best efforts to ban these users.

 



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