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 is left feeling betrayed by Facebook and skeptical of news sources as a whole, which is highly dangerous in a democratic society.
As displayed in this tweet by Kevin Poulsen, Facebook is called out for letting a site, that was previously banned, return to the platform by means of another unverified source.
From me: Two weeks ago @facebook banned a self-described indy news site with phantom writers and clear links to Russia's GRU. Now the site's fake news is back on Facebook by way of a shadowy intermediary based in Moscow. https://t.co/be5v3QPYB5 pic.twitter.com/e0TRpZn3n6
— Kevin Poulsen (@kpoulsen) September 5, 2018
Because of the prevalence of fake news, the public must assume the responsibility of ensuring it is exposing itself to factual information. Because it can be difficult to identify if information being presented is authentic, it is important to look for defining characteristics of fake news sources, which include grammatical and spelling errors or manipulated images. Researching where the information is coming from, gauging the company’s purpose, and cross-referencing other sources are important steps in verifying the news one is receiving.
As reported in the tweet below by Pew Research Center, the majority of older users on Facebook do not understand why they see the things they do on their news feed; this is problematic because the ability to understand one is being targeted is crucial to the process of identifying fake news.
Many Americans say they do not understand how the Facebook news feed selects which posts to show them, including majorities of those ages 50 and older: https://t.co/kYr7hsT8lu
— Galen Stocking (@GalenStocking) September 6, 2018
It is important to ask oneself, for both foreign and domestic news, “Is there an underlying motive of the news source for presenting the information in this light?” The bottom line is that if the news seems at all suspicious and/or does not meet all of the appropriate criteria referenced above, find another platform to learn from.