Former President Barack Obama once confronted Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg about the purported problem of “fake news” on the social media platform, according to a New York Times profile published Tuesday.
Facebook representatives later clarified that Obama wasn’t the only person to speak to Zuckerberg about the pervasiveness of deceptive or invented news stories.
Obama’s decision to converse with Zuckerberg on such an issue is not so surprising. Rather than using his time in Europe as a ceremonious farewell, Obama scathingly criticized the spread of misleading or false news, especially on the internet, following the 2016 presidential election,
“There’s so much misinformation and it’s packaged very well and it looks the same when you see it on a Facebook page or you turn on your television. If everything seems to be the same and no distinctions are made, then we won’t know what to protect,” Obama said in Germany, according to a separate New York Times report.
“I got all caught up in that one,” the forty-fourth president continued, appearing to forget the original question he was responding to.
The pressure to help decipher and purge news stories that are false or unsubstantiated hasn’t just been coming from a former head of state, but also a large portion of the public.
Many credited (or blamed) President Donald Trump winning the presidency to the apparent rise of “fake news,” despite the fact that a study conducted by economists at Stanford University and New York university showed otherwise. (RELATED: Podesta Says Fake News Is A Huge Threat, But The Facts Say Different)
“In summary, our data suggest that social media were not the most important source of election news, and even the most widely circulated fake news stories were seen by only a small fraction of Americans,” the official report concludes.
Zuckerberg has been actively trying to solve the potential problem, or at least assuage the clamoring, while still gingerly paying attention towards concerns of censorship.
Facebook announced in January that it hired former CNN anchor Campbell Brown to lead its news partnerships team. Brown is rather unabashed about her distaste for Trump. (RELATED: Facebook Exec: We Are ‘Just Getting Started’ With ‘Fake News’ Battle)
The social media company also introduced new tools in January and April, respectively, to help users discern which news is credible. One of the earlier updates included ranking posts based on its ostensible authenticity. Another included tips like “checking the URL [web address] of the site” as well as source investigating, which entails flagging websites that look unfamiliar or contain formatting or spelling errors.
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