Looks like Mark Zuckerberg dropped the ball on this one…
BuzzFeed News recently conducted a study that revealed completely FALSE news stories actually performed better on Facebook — through shares, reactions and comments — than those from legitimate sources during the 2016 presidential race.
According to the site’s analysis, 20 of the top-performing fictional articles from hoax outlets and super skewed blogs racked up a combined total of over 8.7 million shares, comments, and reactions in the last three months before the election.
Meanwhile, 20 of the top-performing stories from 19 major news websites — including New York Times, Washington Post, Huffington Post, and NBC News — only earned about 7.3 million shares, reactions, and comments.
That’s kind of messed up, to be honest.
In fact, Darmouth College political science professor Brendan Nyhan agrees, telling BuzzFeed:
“I’m troubled that Facebook is doing so little to combat fake news. Even if they did not swing the election, the evidence is clear that bogus stories have incredible reach on the network. Facebook should be fighting misinformation, not amplifying it.”
While we know we can’t assume Hill lost the election because Facebook was allowing fake news stories to go viral, it is fair to point out that some people can be heavily influenced by stories shared on social media, whether they’re real or not.
Not to mention, the Huffington Post aptly pointed out this week that a lot of online users only base their judgment on an article’s headline, rather than the actual content of the piece.
A Facebook spokesperson told BF the collection of top-performing posts doesn’t accurately reflect engagement across the social media network, saying:
“There is a long tail of stories on Facebook. It may seem like the top stories get a lot of traction, but they represent a tiny fraction of the total.”
Even still, both Facebook and Google made moves this week to prevent fake sites from using their advertising programs.
Fortunately, BuzzFeed recently learned that some employees at the social media giant are forming a task force to abolish the issue.
At the time, a FB manager told the site:
“People know there are concerned employees who are seeing something here which they consider a big problem. And it doesn’t feel like the people making decisions are taking the concerns seriously.”
Well, we hope Mark Zuckerberg fixes this problem before the 2020 election…
[Image via Johnny Louis/AEDT/WENN.]