Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has a message for his billion-plus users: "you're not capable of deciding for yourself what is 'news' and what is not, so we will do it for you."
Facebook has been widely blamed - by the left-leaning mainstream media - for allowing the spread of online misinformation, amusingly much of it pro-Trump, but Zuckerberg has rejected the notion that Facebook influenced the outcome of the election or that fake news is a major problem on the service.
"Of all the content on Facebook, more than 99 percent of what people see is authentic," he wrote in a blog post on Saturday.
"Only a very small amount is fake news and hoaxes."
Which is why we found it odd that since such "a very small amount" of Facebook is "fake", why the left-leaning CEO would draft up his 7-point plan for eradicating "misinformation" from the social network (via Facebook)...
A lot of you have asked what we're doing about misinformation, so I wanted to give an update.
The bottom line is: we take misinformation seriously. Our goal is to connect people with the stories they find most meaningful, and we know people want accurate information. We've been working on this problem for a long time and we take this responsibility seriously. We've made significant progress, but there is more work to be done.
Historically, we have relied on our community to help us understand what is fake and what is not. Anyone on Facebook can report any link as false, and we use signals from those reports along with a number of others -- like people sharing links to myth-busting sites such as Snopes -- to understand which stories we can confidently classify as misinformation. Similar to clickbait, spam and scams, we penalize this content in News Feed so it's much less likely to spread.
The problems here are complex, both technically and philosophically. We believe in giving people a voice, which means erring on the side of letting people share what they want whenever possible. We need to be careful not to discourage sharing of opinions or to mistakenly restrict accurate content. We do not want to be arbiters of truth ourselves, but instead rely on our community and trusted third parties.
While the percentage of misinformation is relatively small, we have much more work ahead on our roadmap. Normally we wouldn't share specifics about our work in progress, but given the importance of these issues and the amount of interest in this topic, I want to outline some of the projects we already have underway:
- Stronger detection. The most important thing we can do is improve our ability to classify misinformation. This means better technical systems to detect what people will flag as false before they do it themselves.
- Easy reporting. Making it much easier for people to report stories as fake will help us catch more misinformation faster.
- Third party verification. There are many respected fact checking organizations and, while we have reached out to some, we plan to learn from many more.
- Warnings. We are exploring labeling stories that have been flagged as false by third parties or our community, and showing warnings when people read or share them.
- Related articles quality. We are raising the bar for stories that appear in related articles under links in News Feed.
- Disrupting fake news economics. A lot of misinformation is driven by financially motivated spam. We're looking into disrupting the economics with ads policies like the one we announced earlier this week, and better ad farm detection.
- Listening. We will continue to work with journalists and others in the news industry to get their input, in particular, to better understand their fact checking systems and learn from them.
Some of these ideas will work well, and some will not. But I want you to know that we have always taken this seriously, we understand how important the issue is for our community and we are committed to getting this right.
So to clarify, Facebook will make it easier for any Tom, Dick, Or Harriet to complain about a story that will necessarily cut the revenues from that entity and will rely on 'fact-checking' organizations, establishment 3rd parties, and the mainstream media for input.
Well what could go wrong?
As we noted previously, while Facebook (or Google) have every right to tweak their ad policies however they see fit - especially if in the process their own ad revenue decline, as both companies retain a portion of the ad proceeds they pay out to content providers - the move is yet another step on a slippery slope, one which begins with determining just what is considered "fake news" and ends with blanket internet censorship along ideological lines.
Which we find especially ironic considering much of the "pro Clinton" press was terrified that it would be Trump who would be the one to hint at or enforce censorship. It seems the media does not need Trump for that: it can do it quite well on its own.
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