The era of fake news and social media has presented itself as a challenging new world for journalism whereby articles are targeted towards a specific audience, sometimes even resulting in purposely misleading publications. Furthermore, the ease of publication and distribution of information has consequently resulted in anyone with an internet connection becoming a potential distributor of news.
Featured Image: (Madalina 2013)
‘If we are not serious about facts and what’s true and what’s not, if we can’t discriminate between serious arguments and propaganda, then we have problems.’
Now what we share, like, retweet and interact with on social media has become a statement of who we are and where belong in the political spectrum. This online profile is used by social media sites to create an online experience designed for maximum interaction between the user and the platform.
Facebook’s news feed values highlight this, stating that their platform targets the information that you’re most likely to engage with in a positive manner with a bias towards the updates of your closest friends and family. This is not inherently a bad thing. However, if you do not have a diverse group of friends and family, with vastly differing political and moral views, you may be unconsciously forming a political bubble and feeding a confirmation bias on views you already agree with.
‘Our top priority is keeping you connected to the people, places and things you want to be connected to – starting with the people you are friends with on Facebook.’
While the recent Stanford study on Social Media and Fake News in the 2016 Election, in summary, concluded: ‘social media was not the most important source of election news, and even the most widely circulated fake news stories were seen by only a small fraction of Americans (Allcott and Gentzkow, 2017).’
The findings also showed that “of the known false news stories that appeared in the three months before the election, those favouring Trump were shared a total of 30 million times on Facebook, while those favouring Clinton were shared eight million times. (Allcott and Gentzkow 2017) While, some might regard these figures as small, in narrow elections these numbers could have the chance to make or break an election campaign.
Recent evidence from the Pew Research Center suggests that ’62 percent of U.S. adults get news on social media’ (Gottfried and Shearer 2016). There is no doubt that social media is becoming a common source for up to date news and information on world events.
’62 percent of U.S. adults get news on social media’
Pew Research Center (Gottfried and Shearer 2016)
Therefore, with the prevalence of fake news and biases created for our own comfort, it is essential for organisations such as Facebook to ensure it monitors these potential concerns over the coming years. However, the individual user also needs to raise the question of what and where they are receiving their information from.
Meanwhile, you can check out Politecho plugin for an insight into your own social network bubble to see how your family and friends influence what you see and interact with on Facebook.
Allcott, H. and Gentzkow, M. (2017). Social Media and Fake News in the 2016 Election.Viewed 15 Mar. 2017 <https://web.stanford.edu/~gentzkow/research/fakenews.pdf>
Daily Headlines. (2016). Did The Pope Shock The World By Endorsing Donald Trump For President. Viewed 15 Mar. 2017 <http://dailyheadlines.net/2016/10/did-the-pope-shock-the-world-by-endorsing-donald-trump-for-president/>
Facebook News Feed. News Feed Values. Viewed 15 Mar. 2017 <https://newsfeed.fb.com/values/>
Gottfried, J. and Shearer, E. (2016). News Use Across Social Media Platforms 2016. Pew Research Center’s Journalism Project. Viewed 15 Mar. 2017 <http://www.journalism.org/2016/05/26/news-use-across-social-media-platforms-2016/>
TheHill. (2016). Obama rails against fake news.Viewed 15 Mar. 2017 <http://thehill.com/policy/technology/306595-obama-rails-against-fake-news>
Madalina, B. (2013). Social media on laptop keyboard. Viewed 15 Mar. 2017 <https://www.flickr.com/photos/107964923@N02/11327048616/in/photolist-ifW5VE-ftN4Wn-dz8mPL-pNbKds-oduqCc-gEyiiF-aR6UXc-c4sgyf-qsBDUs-qrM9jb-cGdCsq-712mw3-pNpNH6-GpRobF-nVHxxd-6m1DDT-aFARwv-6yMAhq-chbgZQ-fBEiBA-qsLg7z-8ZrZ4m-9DKHsL-GpRocn-bET7br-an1g6U-dUH37Y-9DKHys-pNpNDZ-pNbKih-8iuCFD-bKWj92-6m1DDP-99dE3o-7TujKv-e1EPSV-8yrLgS-9LPTtB-pNpNJi-8eFZou-kGRwGV-anE3mU-fBpYWX-6oBXaF-dUBrnn-mRBfrq-dwSuYi-adVDrU-8wqMLe-qsJQVx>
M.I.C Gadget Flickr. (2011). Mark Zuckerberg. Viewed 15 Mar. 2017 <https://www.flickr.com/photos/micgadget/5738952640/in/photolist-9K8CFj-8BW16Y-8BW23o-8NEbPp-4xhRFr-4qPYho-6JNeVX-92L4Xp-9K8CGS-6LE8JB-MkGkF-Bee5q-aqQgwE-Bee4W-Mkw7U-MkGgk-aSFZoz-9A6Lst-C61anK-4xn3yS-vNEhok-wszAnK-vNvE8S-PjAFL-bGz1mM-g7e9cd-zhPeiE->
Politecho.org. PolitEcho.Viewed 15 Mar. 2017 <http://politecho.org/>