Facebook will implement new measures to cut down on the prevalence of fake news and propaganda on its platform.
The phenomenon of ‘fake news’ has been a major talking point recently among politicians and voters due to the presidential election of 2016. News seems to be everywhere since it is so easy to access and distribute online.
Whether that content is truthful and reliable or not is a completely different aspect when it comes to which news sources are honest in their reporting.
However, with the spread of news, comes some negatives that cast a shadow across the news industry and those who are consumers of its product. News can cause people to get entrenched in their own political views.
Journalism professor Pamela Fisher shared her thoughts on this.
“It’s pretty hard to have good civic debate when we’re not hearing or considering views that diverge from our own,” Fisher said. “It isolates and fragments us.”
Facebook wants to be known as a social media platform that does not tolerate any kind of false news that is inappropriately charged. This is why they have implemented new steps when it comes to ridding their platform of untrustworthy news.
News ads currently make up about 5 percent of Facebook’s total content. Facebook will send out surveys to random users regarding whether or not the users have heard of or trust these news organizations, companies and brands.
The difference between propaganda and news can be confusing. The point of a news article is to report events and inform the public of the “five W’s”. Who, what, when, where and why.
Propaganda can look very similar to an article, however it is usually characterized by little to no factual support, the author(s) can be from a group that promotes a hateful or violent message and the piece of propaganda is created to promote a very specific cause. This cause is usually considered to be violent, racist, sexist, discriminatory and/or hateful by the majority.
“The freedom of the press is a truly beautiful thing. However, we still have to remain conscious that unprofessional journalism is out there and it is deceiving us,” said freshman journalism major Jordan Green. “Fake news and propaganda not only exists, but it is a cancer to the institution of journalism. As consumers, we need to learn to be diligent in our consumption of news so we don’t get bogged down in what is the truth and what are lies.”
Facebook is one of many outlets that are beginning to address the fake news epidemic that seemed to control the distribution of news in the past presidential election. As this issue becomes more prevalent, it is expected that additional news sources, social media sites and entertainment outlets will begin to crack down on false facts presented in news and negative propaganda.
It is important that consumers have all of the facts before coming to a conclusion on what is true and false in news.
With the wide availability of news in this social media filled world, it is important that people are responsible with their judgements. A great way to not get bogged down in the chaos of breaking news and difficult subjects is to take a step back and wait for the full story to reveal itself.
Communications professor, Marcia Berry shared her thoughts on fake news.
“I try to back up and wait before I make a judgement on something going on in the world,” Berry
said. “It is so easy these days to get the headline story out there as quickly as possible that no one waits until the full story is revealed. Judgements are made far too fast.”
In this increasingly divided media world, it seems as if taking a side is a necessity, and in order to do that the reader must come to a conclusion. Facebook’s efforts to end fake news on their platform could be a stepping stone towards the news becoming news again and not a platform for a subliminal political message.
The fake news epidemic has even spread to Pope Francis as he said in a tweet on Jan. 24, “I would like to invite everyone to promote a journalism of peace, a journalism created by people for people.”
On Feb. 3, the 31st annual Impact Conference will be held at APU and one of the topics that will be presented on is “Fake News.” This issue is growing bigger and bigger as time goes on in the journalistic world.