Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) has responded to widespread accusations of how its faulty Newsfeed algorithm amplified misinformation in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidential victory in the Election Day 2016.
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg believes the network has nothing to do with Donald Trump’s victory. At the Techonomy 2016 conference, he said onstage it is “crazy” to think that misinformation spread on Facebook influenced the election in any way.
However, Six out of ten Americans get some or most of their news from Facebook, according to the Pew Research Center. And, the social media platform was full of fake posts on November 8.
Facebook is the most visited page on the World Wide Web
Facebook is a social media platform with over 1.5 billion users, and each month, it reports more than 650 million active accounts.
If it is the source of information for billions of people, then it needs to take some responsibility. While some news on Facebook come from established and qualified outlets, the site fails to filter false information from click bait sites.
An excellent example goes as follows: “FBI AGENT SUSPECTED IN HILLARY EMAIL LEAKS FOUND DEAD IN APPARENT MURDER-SUICIDE.”
It was a fabricated headline from a fake news site called Denver Guardian. Thousands of users shared the link in the days leading up to the election.
Another example: Last week Buzzfeed reported an entire web industry in Macedonia making fake news related to Trump vs. Clinton to generate ad revenue from US readers. The company reportedly made between $3,000 and $5,000 per month.
Who controls Facebook’s newsfeed?
Over the summer, Facebook fired the small team of journalists in charge of its “trending” links and replaced them with an algorithm. Gizmodo said the editors routinely suppressed conservative viewpoints.
According to TechCrunch, three days after Facebook disbanded the human curators, a fake news story about Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly began to trend.
The story claimed she had been booted from the conservative Fox News because she was a secret Hillary Clinton supporter. The “News” topped Beyonce’s VMA performance and Anthony Weiner’s sexting scandal.
Any attractive headline can make it to Facebook. Then, a filter bubble takes user’s preferences into account to recommend them only what they would like to read.
The algorithm does not consider an outlet’s credibility when choosing which posts will make it to the newsfeed. If users share and comment any link, then the software will show it to other users, even if it is fake.
Adam Mosseri, Facebook’s executive in charge of the news feed, told TechCrunch the site would take measures to correct the code. “We take misinformation on Facebook very seriously,” he said.
Can social media change people’s minds?
Most media assumed Clinton would win, but Trump still won thanks to a “silent majority.” Now, more than ever, it is very hard to pinpoint the real influence of the media.
In a time where everyone is entitled to his or her opinion and even facts, many suppose people would only support their beliefs with the information they click.
Mark Zuckerberg recognizes there is a problem with the filter bubble, as he sees users are actively avoiding accounts and pages with opposing points of views.