The Lie Detector Test

Facebook has been in the spotlight over the past six months receiving negative attention from politicians, the press, and the public. Cambridge Analytica, a UK-based data analytics firm, confessed to planting fake news on Facebook to sway election results across the globe. With 87 million users’ personal information leaked to a third-party app, the public […]

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Fake News

People verbalize that they want free speech, but they only want free speech if it is similar to their way of thinking. While eliminating fake news is crucial to finding the truth, it is imperative that we address this issue, rather than just trying to engage in civic discourse.  I define civic discourse as citizens […]

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Facebook’s Role

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When Facebook was founded, it was designed to be a social network for college students. Nearly 15 years later, it has become so much more than just a space to connect with friends – it is a source of information. Ask any college class how they get their news, and chances are at least one response will be “Facebook,” but how can we trust that the information we see posted and shared is authentic? The truth is, we can’t.

Sure, Facebook can (and should) crack down on foreign influence on its site, but even removing all foreign content will not ensure that all content is 100% authentic. Think about it: how many times have you seen that one of your Facebook friends shared an article that seems too outrageous to be true, only to debunk it with a quick Google search? This content doesn’t have to be foreign propaganda to be harmful – domestic groups are just as capable of influencing the public to take hateful stances. This post from Twitter User @kristinaxb describes the prevalence of these hateful posts:

The problem is that Facebook has labeled itself an information source, which means that its executives have an obligation to ensure that its users are receiving authentic information. In this thread, Twitter user @trekonomics evaluates different tech companies’ roles as public goods, Facebook included:

So how can Facebook properly function as an information source and become a public good? My answer has nothing to do with making the platform more authentic. In fact, my answer is completely different –  I believe that Facebook should return to its roots as a social network, and let other platforms take the lead in information.

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Avoiding Fake News

Scrolling through my Facebook news feed, I often question which posts are reliable or not. It is not the posts from “The New York Times” or “The Huffington Post” that make me question Facebook’s credibility, but instead posts from “UNILAD” or “Everything News.” Especially with recent allegations against Facebook for foreign influence operations through their […]

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Senate Social Hearings Do Little to Reassure Facebook Users

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Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg appeared in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee last Wednesday with Twitter founder Jack Dorsey in the latest hearing on Russian interference in the 2016 election. The leaders of the two largest social media companies in America testified about their process in determining which accounts are real, and which are potentially dangerous to mechanisms such as the American electoral system.

While Dorsey apologized, saying they were not prepared for the wave of troll armies, Sandberg stood defiant, saying, “We are more determined than our opponents, and we will keep fighting.”

Sandberg also updated Congress on Facebook’s progress on stopping fraudulent pages from surfacing and said they are working with other entities to stop the further spread of misinformation.

 

 

There was one key moment when Sandberg told the committee, “Our focus [when looking for foreign accounts] is inauthenticity.” Matt Binder, a reporter for Mashable made an important point on Sandberg’s statement.

“When asked to approximate just how many Facebook accounts are ‘inauthentic,’ Sandberg replied between 3 and 4 percent. At Facebook’s reported 2.23 billion active users, that would mean somewhere between 66,900,000 and 89,200,000 are inauthentic.”

That staggering number may have some users of the site concerned over viewing their content. However,

 

Both Dorsey and Sandberg were also grilled by Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) on hate speech on their respective platforms.  While both apologized and claimed to be on top of this issue, just this weekend, bots attacked users yet again.

 

Despite the updates, the hearings did little to re-assure the American people that leaders at both companies were on top of the situation, and with no clear way to determine which accounts are inauthentic, it will still be easy for hate and misinformation to slip through the cracks.
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