Bill Doskoch: Media, BPS*, Film, Minutiae

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MPs question Facebook on fake news problem

MPs on the House of Commons’ heritage committee questioned a Facebook representative about the plethora of false and misleading news circulated on the social media giant. In return, they got the stock line uttered earlier by Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO.

From iPolitics (“MPs put Facebook’s feet to fire over fake news“):

Liberal MP and Commons heritage committee member Seamus O’Regan — a former broadcaster — asked how the company could implement measures to “referee” and prevent fake news from circulating. He referenced one fake story — shared a million times by the time it was proven to be bogus — that claimed the Pope had endorsed Donald Trump.

Kevin Chan, head of public policy at Facebook Canada, told the committee “it’s very early days” and referred MPs back to a post by Mark Zuckerberg in which the Facebook CEO downplayed the issue and insisted that “of all the content on Facebook, more than 99% of what people see is authentic.”

“Only a very small amount is fake news and hoaxes,” said Zuckerberg’s post. “The hoaxes that do exist are not limited to one partisan view, or even to politics. Overall, this makes it extremely unlikely hoaxes changed the outcome of this election in one direction or the other.

“That said, we don’t want any hoaxes on Facebook … We have already launched work enabling our community to flag hoaxes and fake news, and there is more we can do here.”

Recent reports suggest that there’s significant disagreement within Facebook itself over whether fake news affected the election’s outcome. In a Washington Post interview published Thursday, one fake news writer, who fabricated a story about an anti-Trump protester being paid thousands of dollars, said he believed the fake article contributed to Trump’s win because his supporters wanted to believe it was true — and didn’t care whether it had been verified.

Conservative MP Larry Maguire also pressed Chan on the credibility of Facebook posts and was met with much the same response — although Chan added the company is trying to “down rank” clickbait so it doesn’t show up as much and users “engage with good content … good, quality content.”

Thu, November 17 2016 » Main Page, Media