In the days since Donald Trump’s election, liberals have been looking for who to blame for the New York businessman’s success. For many, fake news stories on Facebook have become the scapegoat for Trump’s victory.
Gizmodo reported Monday and The New York Times reported Saturday that there was proposed a change to eliminate hoax stories but that was never enacted because it would disproportionally hurt right-wing news sites. Ever since it was reported in May that Facebook trending news editors were burying conservative news stories, Facebook has been conscious to not upset the Right. (RELATED: Facebook’s News Content Staff Was Filled With Liberals)
Facebook founder and chairman Mark Zuckerberg has brushed off accusations that fake news stories on the site affected the election. He wrote Saturday in a Facebook post, “After the election, many people are asking whether fake news contributed to the result, and what our responsibility is to prevent fake news from spreading. These are very important questions and I care deeply about getting them right. I want to do my best to explain what we know here.”
“Of all the content on Facebook, more than 99% of what people see is authentic. Only a very small amount is fake news and hoaxes. The hoaxes that do exist are not limited to one partisan view, or even to politics. Overall, this makes it extremely unlikely hoaxes changed the outcome of this election in one direction or the other,” Zuckerberg added. “That said, we don’t want any hoaxes on Facebook. Our goal is to show people the content they will find most meaningful, and people want accurate news.”
The Facebook founder went on to say in the post that he wants to proceed “very carefully” regarding eliminating fake news because many “stories express an opinion that many will disagree with and flag as incorrect even when factual.”
While Zuckerberg seems, at least publicly, to want to proceed carefully with the process of removing fake news stories, this isn’t an opinion held by all. Bobby Goodlatte, a former Facebook product designer, wrote in a Facebook post Wednesday morning as it became clear Donald Trump would win the election, “I’m really disappointed by what’s going on tonight.”
“Highly partisan, fact-light media outlets blinded us on the left (HuffPo, Vox), and propelled Donald Trump into the lead on the right (Breitbart). Sadly, their fuel is the social internet: FB, Twitter, Reddit too. Breitbart and countless other conservative publications have thrived over the last few years. In some cases they’ve multiplied 10X or more,” Goodlatte added.
He wrote, “Sadly, News Feed optimizes for engagement. As we’ve learned in this election, bullshit is highly engaging. These outlets, and Donald Trump, have no concern for the truth, and really only care for engagement.” (RELATED: Facebook COO In Leaked Email: I Still Want Hillary To Win Badly)
Goodlatte’s opinion that conservative news essentially equals fake news is shared by others on the left. Just check out the New York Magazine article “Facebook’s Fake News Problem and Its Conservative News Problem Are the Same Thing.” Its author Brian Feldman wrote, “The responsibility of flagging false articles now falls on users. But Facebook is an echo chamber. The people reading the Daily Caller and the Blaze do so because they’re already onboard. They’re not going to tell anyone it’s fake. People see what they want to see and believe what they want to believe.”
Feldman went on to write, “Facebook’s problem isn’t that it suppresses ‘conservative news’ or allows ‘fake news.’ It’s that those two categories are increasingly indistinguishable.”
So if what Gizmodo and The New York Times are reporting is true, and Facebook employees want to deal with fake news, it is likely conservative media will again be suppressed by the social media giant.