Since 61,864,015 US voters elected Donald Trump, to the White House on November 8th, his opposition have been left hankering for someone or something to account for the shock victory. As the dust settled, one all mighty finger has been pointed at Facebook as being a big factor in the Apprentice star taking the Oval Office. Many claim that the social media giant has been allowing ‘echo chambers’ on both extremes of the political spectrum, meaning that ardent Trump supporters are never exposed to any anti-trump content on their news feeds and that people who are anti-trump never see the other side of the coin.
Is this accusation against Facebook justified? And if so, what can be done to make sure that we hear more of what we don’t like?
‘Blue Feed, Red Feed’ created by The Wall Street Journal perfectly demonstrates how “reality may differ for different Facebook users.” The ‘Blue Feed’ on the left shows posts that were frequently shared by Facebook users whom researchers classified as “very liberal,” the right ‘Red’ column is content that was widely shared by Facebook users identified as “very conservative.”
Throw into the mix a growing amount of fake news sites that create intentionally provocative content to be shared across social media, spreading the lies even further, is it any wonder that people that people are accusing Facebook of fostering fabrication.
Of course, none of this would really matter if people didn’t so ardently depend on Facebook as their primary source of news. A Pew research study carried out in May of this year found that 62% percent of American adults get their news from Social Media.
Mark Zuckerberg has responded following the flurry of accusations shot at Facebook by saying that “we take misinformation seriously. Our goal is to connect people with the stories they find most meaningful, and we know people want accurate information.”
“The problems here are complex, both technically and philosophically. We believe in giving people a voice, which means erring on the side of letting people share what they want whenever possible. We need to be careful not to discourage sharing of opinions or to mistakenly restrict accurate content. We do not want to be arbiters of truth ourselves, but instead rely on our community and trusted third parties.”
This statement was followed up by a pledge to try and clampdown on misinformation more fervently including methods for greater detection and verification, and providing warning labels on any fake content shared on the site.
What can we do?
So….Facebook seems to be trying to clear up its act when it comes to fake news but what can we do to help stop the spread of fake news and echo chambers?
Question everything you read (including this!)
Take the time to browse websites and articles that don’t fit your political affinity
Share news you know or suspect of be false
Get all of your information and news from one source