Zuckerberg says fake news on Facebook had no impact on election
Facebook co-founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said on Thursday that fake news spread on the social media giant had no impact on the 2016 presidential election, calling the notion a "crazy idea."
Since Facebook's curation team was canned and the site's "trending" bar was taken over by algorithms, highly dubious or just plain fake stories have frequently appeared. Last Friday, for example, a story bearing the headline, "BREAKING: Ex-Apprentice Summer Zervos Paid $500,000 By Gloria Allred to Accuse Trump, Deal Went To Others Too" was trending on Facebook's homepage. The headline is surprising and eye-catching because Zervos is one of Allred's clients who have claimed Trump sexually assaulted her. But the headline was from a very convincing-sounding website called TruthFeed, known for its right-wing rumor-mongering. According to CNN, TruthFeed (whose link to the story appears to be down), cited GotNews, another suspect alt-right site run by Chuck Johnson, who in turn cited "anonymous sources." (In other words, that story is not true.)
SEE EARLIER: Facebook Doesn't Want To Talk About Its Role In Electing Trump
Although Zuckerberg was initially silent on the issue of Facebook disseminating biased and misleading content to the site's roughly 191 million U.S. users, he finally addressed it in an interview with David Kirkpatrick at the Techonomy conference in Half Moon Bay, California. "Voters make decisions based on their lived experience," he said, as quoted by The Washington Post. "I think there is a certain profound lack of empathy in asserting that the only reason why someone could have voted the way they did is because they saw some fake news."
Facebook has repeatedly asserted that it is not a media company, but there is no escaping how vital the platform is in spreading news. In addition to 79 percent of Americans who are online using Facebook, a recent Pew study reports that 44 percent of the country's general population says it gets its news from Facebook.
This cycle especially, the site became a bastion of fake news that many say reinforced hyper partisanship — as users shared articles with other users who held likeminded beliefs. Although both right- and left-leaning websites took part in this practice, reports from BuzzFeed, the Guardian, and The New York Times showed that fake news stories and memes that pumped up Donald Trump and tore down Hillary Clinton did much better and so were spread around more often.
It just goes to show that Trump knew exactly what he was doing when in mid-October he told supporters in Colorado Springs, Colorado, to, "Forget the press. Read the internet."
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