We have all been there, scrolling on our Facebook timelines and came across some wild article. Unfortunately what happens from there is up to the reader. Some take what they read on the internet with a grain of salt and fact check, others not so much. Social misinformation occurs because social sites, especially Facebook have a well-established reputation.
I know it’s one of the first places I go daily to find out what’s happening in the world. Facebook has trending topics, top news organizations and all my friends who I consider truthful sources of information. But in the wake of an especially confusing election season chock full of mudslinging misinformation, Mark Zuckerberg spoke out about how Facebook is going to combat fake news stories.
How big is the social misinformation problem?
Zuckerberg has been quoted saying that social misinformation on Facebook is a relatively small problem. Now though it seems to be growing into a pretty serious issue. Obama even spoke on the issue of fake news during the 2016 campaign. During a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Obama mentioned the problem Facebook seems to have, explaining that “if everything seems to be the same and no distinctions are made, then we won’t know what to protect.”
Recently, BuzzFeed did an analysis regarding election articles and shockingly found that “the top-performing fake election news stories on Facebook generated more engagement than the top stories from major news outlets such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Huffington Post, NBC News.”
So now that we have established this is actually a huge problem, how do we fix it?
Zuckerberg weighs in…
Zuckerberg publicly addressed the social misinformation issue with a lengthy Facebook post. He wanted people to know he knew the issue was serious and that Facebook was actively working to combat it. He mentions projects they are working on “to better detect and classify misinformation, making it easier for users to report fake stories, adding third-party verification and exploring ways to label stories that have been flagged as false.” You can read his full status here.
Let’s hope so. But until Facebook finds a way to resolve this issue it is up to us to be conscious consumers of information. So don’t forget to ALWAYS double check your facts before sharing!