Fake news has been around for a very long time and has always been inherently bad. In recent times, social media, namely Facebook, has exacerbated and changed the nature of this problem to the extent that many are calling to these large social and digital organisations to play a bigger part in now working towards resolving the issue where possible in the digital landscape.
“Why should Facebook pay? Because it profits from spreading propaganda, that’s why.” – Paul Ralph, The Conversation
A large part of how Facebook enhances the dissemination of fake news has to do with confirmation bias – we are more likely to believe or only seek out information that aligns with our personal views and values. For example, during the 2016 US Presidential campaign, supporters of each candidate would believe the information that aligned with their political agenda, whether it was believing Clinton was involved in a paedophile ring or that Trump once called Republicans the “dumbest voters in the country”. If there is information affirming peoples beliefs, they don’t often feel the need to check their facts or seek out another angle. Social networks such as Facebook also allow this information to be constantly shared among those with similar values so fake news can reach even further than ever before.
It is this confirmation bias that is a part of our human nature, so fixing the fake news issue is no small feat, even for giants such as Facebook and Google. Many experts see a solution in both algorithm changes and filters and education.
Being able to create a filter or change the algorithm on digital networks, a large amount of fake news could be detected and blocked. This would take considerable development, but many see this as the only way for changing social media’s role in the problem and allowing these giants to effectively work as gatekeepers of information and perform more of a social role in society.
Furthermore, educating people and improving on media and digital literacy is absolutely vital in this issue as in order to ensure fake news and propaganda don’t override correct information, people need the resources to be able to critically think about the media they’re consuming.
Feature image source: https://hipandthigh.wordpress.com/2016/12/04/the-myth-of-fake-news/