Facebook’s platform in particular is responsible for generating a massive influx of misinformation, however, is it the company’s responsibility to ensure that the information shared is accurate and authentic? I would argue that Facebook should not be held responsible because Facebook is not generating the information that is being created. The users are generating the false and sometimes malicious information, and the users are responsible for sharing the information that they wish, whether it’s true or not. Facebook is not a reputable source for news. It was never intended for that purpose.
Despite that, Facebook has no obligation to ensure accurate and truthful information. Facebook according to the New York Times, stated “that the social network was a place for people to stay informed and that what people saw in their news feed was overwhelmingly authentic. The Silicon Valley company previously denied that it failed to deal with misinformation and said it continues to monitor the social network so that it meets existing standards.” Now the company states that its company is a place to stay informed, well, being informed does not equate to having authentic and accurate information. You could be well informed about wizards and witches, but that doesn’t mean you’ll get your letter from Hogwarts anytime soon.
There is a variety of false information out on social media and it does not take too much to discern what is false and what is true. Some simple guidelines include: A) Check the credibility of the source B) Research the topic and C) Use common sense. There have been too many times where I have seen people get upset over false Facebook statuses that they believed to be true, just because they saw it on Facebook. Common Facebook hoaxes include celebrities’ deaths, currently Brad Pitt and Jaden Smith are involved in those scams, and false news stories about the election.
It is disturbing that so many people choose to believe what they see on a social media platform before a reputable and credible source. Fox News states that “The legit[imate] stuff drew 7,367,000 shares, reactions and comments, while the fictional material drew 8,711,000 shares, reactions and comments.” People need to remember that not everything that is posted on Facebook is accurate.People are more inclined to believe these false news stories because they are controversial, and controversial news stories cause people to have emotional reactions. A BuzzFeed News analysis found that “top fake election news stories generated more total engagement on Facebook than top election stories from 19 major news outlets combined.” Facebook is only a social media platform and people must use their own discretion when choosing what to embrace as the truth.
There have been numerous articles that claim Facebook is not doing enough to ensure that news posted on its website is authentic. However, Facebook despite having no obligation to do so, expressed that it will strive to eliminate fake news. Fox News states that, “Facebook, while using a broader measurement than Buzzfeed, admits it has a problem. And after Google announced this week that it would try to purge such material.” However, some of the fake articles are satirical pieces of work, which, in a literary sense, is a type of art. Perhaps Facebook is overstepping its bounds if it tries to eliminate fake news pieces. The First Amendment doesn’t stop when a person engages online. Facebook can try its hardest to eliminate as many of the fake news outlets as it can, but ultimately that route would have no affect on the users who post the content. People need to be better educated and not take everything they see online or on Facebook at face value.
According to a New York Times article, “Facebook’s status as a digital-era news source,” has been faced “with an onslaught of online misinformation and abuse that [has] had real-world political repercussions.” There’s one large problem with the New York Times qoute, it states that Facebook is a “digital-era news source” except that it’s not a news source. It’s a platform where information is shared. A news source would indicate that the company writes and produces its own news, which it doesn’t. Yes, the fake news articles posted on Facebook have real world implications, but so do fake printed news outlets such as The Globe or The Inquirer (where every other week the Queen of England is dying of some medical condition). False political ads on TV also have an impact, and social media giants such as Facebook who have no control over the content that users post should not be blamed for the users’ lack of common sense.
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