Two of the world’s largest internet companies have faced harsh criticism recently over their facilitation of the spread of fake news—with some arguing their allowance of misinformation may have influenced the presidential election’s outcome.
Google and Facebook have both since vowed to work against the spread of fake news. Google says that it plans to ban websites pushing fake news stories from being able tp advertise on its platform. Facebook in turn updated its Facebook Audience Network policy, stating it will not display ads for sites showing misleading content.
Mark Zuckerberg’s original stance in response to sensationalist headlines (like Forbes’ “How Facebook Helped Donald Trump Become President”) was: “I think the idea that fake news on Facebook, of which it’s a very small amount of the content, influenced the election in any way is a pretty crazy idea.”
And it is, of course. Still, working to minimize fake news is important regardless of political sway, even it’s only 1% of the overall content, as Zuckerberg claims.
Interestingly, much of the vitriol toward these companies hails from the same media outlets that reported unabashedly biased news in favor of Trump’s opposing candidate, Hillary Clinton, such as BuzzFeed, The New York Times, and Slate. It does not make their desire for a fake-free news feed less sensible, but it’s fun to ask: would anyone have pointed a finger at Zuck if Clinton won the election?