Stop the spread of fake news on Facebook
In the aftermath of the shocking 2016 US election, our nation is more polarized than ever. Pleas abound for American citizens to come together, find common ground, and move forward in partnership to preserve the health of our democracy. But the divide between us is vast and growing wider by the day, aided in large part by a relatively recent phenomenon: the proliferation of fake news sites and their rapid spread on social media.
Malicious actors from both the right- and left-wing of the political spectrum are creating and promoting fake news content meant to inflame partisans to extreme anger and resentment. These sites intentionally create false impressions of how "the other side" is responding to any given issue, spread blatantly untrue "facts" and lend credence to hopeless pursuits that only lead to more crushing disappointment and anger when they don't come to pass. This is meant to keep us divided, unable to meet in the middle because the bases of knowledge we start from are so starkly different. How are we to start bridging the gap between us if we can't even agree on the fundamental facts of reality?
Facebook has been the ultimate breeding ground for fake news sharing. More than half of Americans use the social media platform (along with more than one billion people worldwide), and many get their news exclusively from articles they see shared there. While we can hope that individuals will verify the veracity of any news story they see, realistically we know that many people do not look beyond headlines before eagerly liking and sharing articles, thus spreading the misinformation further and further at incredible speed, cementing the false ideas before there is any opportunity to combat them.
Thus far, Mark Zuckerberg has avoided taking responsibility for this alarming spread of fake news on his platform, and denied that it may have affected the 2016 US election. He has vowed to take this issue more seriously going forward, but has made only vague promises without outlining any concrete solutions, and continues to put the onus for identifying fake news on Facebook users rather than on his staff.
I ask you to sign this petition to hold Mark Zuckerberg to his word to pursue action against the spread of fake news, and to dedicate a team of staff within Facebook to identify and stop its spread on his platform.
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