ELECTION 2016

Facebook’s
fake news problem

Facebook’s fake news problem is dividing the company’s employees

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has come under increasing pressure from both inside and outside the company to address the spread of fake news on the site, something many believe influenced the outcome of the U.S. presidential election last week.

As a first step in addressing the problem, Facebook has decided to ban all fake news sites from using its advertising network to make money.

In a statement to the Wall Street Journal on Monday, Facebook said this rule was already implied, but it has now updated its policies to make it explicit. “We vigorously enforce our policies and take swift action against sites and apps that are found to be in violation. Our team will continue to closely vet all prospective publishers and monitor existing ones to ensure compliance.”

The move by Facebook to ban fake news sites from advertising comes just hours after Google announced a similar measure. The search giant will no longer make its advertising tools available to sites that peddle fake news, which could mean a loss of revenue for other websites that promote those stories.

“Moving forward, we will restrict ad serving on pages that misrepresent, misstate, or conceal information about the publisher, the publisher’s content, or the primary purpose of the web property,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement to Reuters.

Google came under fire itself last week when it was revealed that the first result for the search “final election results” went to a fake news site with false results.

Recent reports have indicated that there is a significant difference of opinion within Facebook about the issue of fake news:

BuzzFeed reports that some Facebook staffers unhappy with Zuckerberg’s response to the fake news issue have set up an unofficial working group within the company to deal with the problem.

The New York Times says that some of Facebook’s top executives have begun to question the site’s influence in the wake of the surprise election result.

Gizmodo reports that Facebook had developed a tool for identifying fake news on the site, but had not deployed it over concerns of a backlash from conservatives. Facebook has denied this story.

One anonymous source speaking to BuzzFeed said, “[Mark Zuckerberg] knows, and those of us at the company know, that fake news ran wild on our platform during the entire campaign season.”

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