Even if?the biggest social media platforms today?didn't plan on getting involved with news at the time of their inception, it's something that was bound to happen anyway. It's simply too quick and easy to put something online in a place where anyone can see it.
And that means that these platforms have a responsibility to moderate the information that people get from them. It is, of course, a lot easier said than done—especially if there's a userbase of millions of people, like on Facebook.
The Alarming Spread of Misinformation on Facebook
Research conducted by Cybersecurity for Democracy suggests that far-right Facebook pages that publish misinformation have the highest levels of engagement per follower when compared to any other category of news source.
Cybersecurity for Democracy is a project of New York University. This study that focused on fake news on Facebook is credited to Laura Edelson, Minh-Kha Nguyen, Ian Goldstein, Oana Goga, Tobias Lauinger, and Damon McCoy.
A key point at the top of the study reads:
Far-right sources designated as spreaders of misinformation had an average of 426 interactions per thousand followers per week, while non-misinformation sources had an average of 259 weekly interactions per thousand followers.
The team used?NewsGuard and Media Bias/Fact Check to check?over 2,500 Facebook pages of US news sources for bias and accuracy of information. All sources were?categorized by ideological positioning (far right, slightly right, center, slightly left, far left) and?if and how often?it would get flagged for publishing false content.
Additionally, it is said that engagement with posts from far-right and far-left news sources on Facebook peaked on the day of the 2020 US presidential election (November 3), and again on the day of the 2021 storming of US Capitol (January 6).
It's pretty disappointing to read, considering Facebook did take action to try and stop the spread of fake news during the last US election. Last November, Facebook demoted posts that shared misinformation. It also tweaked its News Feed to show mainstream outlets more prominently.
While we never could have anticipated the riot that ensued last January, Facebook did what it could to fan the flames on its platform.
Former US president Donald Trump, whose statements are widely believed to be the primary cause for US Capitol riots, was banned from Facebook. The Oversight Board will decide if Trump's ban is permanent.
Always Check if Your News Sources Are Credible
While engagement with potentially misleading posts isn't inherently bad, it's important to be cautious of what information you absorb from social media.?If a post or a story has a lot of reactions or comments, that doesn't necessarily mean the source is trustworthy.
Do your part to stop the spread of misinformation by doing a quick fact check before you share that shocking headline to?your social media.
This is the age of misinformation and fake news. Here are the best unbiased fact-checking sites so that you can find the truth.