The Fake News in My Feed

July 13, 2018

 

Reporters rely on credible sources. It’s what makes the fourth estate work. But what happens when the line between credible news and fake news blurs – as it does now?

 

A recent study by Pew Research Center on News Use Across Social Media Platforms (2017) shows that the number of people who rely on social media for their news is on the rise. The whole study is worth a read, and no doubt that we will be revisiting it in future posts, but for now let’s focus on Facebook.

 

Facebook leads the pack by far on percentage of U.S. adults who get their news from the network (45%). Facebook is loath to call themselves a media platform because they don’t want to be the news police, but it’s that sentiment that got them – or rather their lawyers (or in Twitter’s case – the “Acting General Counsel”) dragged in front of a senate hearing. (Sidebar: If your title is “acting” anything and you are the public face of the company to the United States Senate, isn’t it time for a permanent title?)

 

According to a CNN article, Facebook informed lawmakers that roughly 126 million Americans may have been exposed to content generated on its platform by a Russian government-linked troll farm known as the Internet Research Agency between June 2015 and August 2017.  While they tried to spin that number, it’s still a staggering amount of false information that is making its way into our newsfeeds.

 

 I recently had a Facebook friend – a woman I went to high school with and have not seen or spoken to in 25 years – share an “article” about the newly elected mayor of Hoboken New Jersey. The headline was: “Muslim New Jersey Mayor Just Abolished Christmas ‘To Respect Other Religions.” While so much is wrong about this article (to start, the newly elected mayor is Sikh, not Muslim), it was shared as if fact and then liked by other users. A quick search on FactCheck.org flagged it as a hoax saying “The bogus story originated on a self-described satirical website called Reagan Was Right, which says in an “about” section on each page that “nothing on this site is real.”

 

Eventually Facebook flagged it as a potentially fake story, but it was too late and the damage had been done. Even upon telling my Facebook friend she had been duped, she simply “liked” my comment and kept the story on up on her page.

 

Examples of this are many, but the real core of the problem is that not everyone will check a news source or understand that the source may be either “satirical” (if you can call it that) as the site above, but fewer people are holding the information that they consume to a higher standard. And part of that is because the platforms available to them don’t have the mechanism to sift fact from fiction.

 

What we are doing at VISVA is a new way of getting what you want and reducing what you don’t.  This is done by grouping you with others who are like-minded and who consume content the way you consume content. The goal is to bring you more credible, compelling content without having to sift through posts and fact check hoaxes. Who has time for that?

 

Check out VISVA. Get on our Beta list @ https://discovery.visva.com/

 

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July 13, 2018

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