Facebook has been blamed for allowing people to share false and misleading stories by partisan websites, which are mainly sided with Donald Trump.
Fake news plagued Facebook since it was conceived, but Mark Zuckerberg has assured that over “99 percent of what people see is authentic.”
Although the company has announced to be concerned about the issue, there is no solution shortly, even if Facebook tackled the problem by using smart AI.
The problem with conservative websites
Apparently, one of the biggest problems was that news that sided with Trump were often classified as fake, and Facebook did not suppress these sites because it would act against potentially legitimate right-wing opinions.
A report in May revealed that Facebook workers actively removed news stories that could be of interest for conservative readers. These employees were known as “news curators,” and they were commissioned to insert stories in news feeds even if the algorithm left them out of consideration.
“The curators write headlines and summaries of each topic, and include links to news sites. The [Trending Topics] section, which launched in 2014, constitutes some of the most powerful real estate on the internet and helps dictate what news Facebook’s users—167 million in the US alone—are reading at any given moment,” wrote Michael Nunez for Gizmodo.
Facebook has announced that it takes bias very seriously and that there is a lot of incentive in allowing the discussion of political perception, without providing any single advantage. Former Facebook workers have even acknowledged that the news curators do exist and that sometimes their intentions were clearly biased not to recognize topics concerning conservative politics as relevant.
People read news on Facebook
The company emphasizes that it strives to make each user’s News Feed more meaningful and informative, which in turn requires some filter that will remove any unreliable content from what appears on the screen. To achieve this, Facebook relied on its algorithm implemented in 2015, which removed articles that were flagged by users as inappropriate, misleading, or any other infraction of Facebook’s terms and conditions.
Then in 2016, another update was implemented targeting click bait stories such as “10 Tricks to seduce your crush —You won’t believe #6!!!” The system would recognize these articles and their most frequently used phrases and remove them from news feeds. Apparently, the algorithm was successful most of the time, seeing that the vast majority of the removed sites were indeed click bait pages.
But still, Facebook cannot rely solely on users and its algorithm to deliver News Feed content that is resourceful, informative, and entirely akin to the user’s needs, which is why curators were implemented. Now, because Facebook found itself in a tough position concerning the biased filters imposed on each user’s news feed, it seems that the company decided to be more liberal on what news pages are shared by each user, just in time for the election.
Seeing that the Trump campaign was partially fueled by the business magnate’s scandals and the constant news coverage provided to each one of his crazy connotations, the 45th President of the United States might have been pushed up to the White House by the modern ways people get their news. For Facebook, it accounts for 44 percent of all Americans that use social networks.