Mark Zuckerberg does not see Facebook as a media company. To him, Facebook is a tech company. With all of the gnashing of teeth by Democrats following the election about “fake news” supposedly being part of the reason Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump, there have been calls for Zuckerberg to “do something” about it. The left is famous for saying “we need to do something” when they see what they consider to be a problem. The left never has much of a solution for those problems, but it needs to be something.
Naturally, the left and the media aren’t bothering to stop and think about the real issue: People do not trust the mainstream media anymore.
The media is so distrusted; people are often, willing to believe more outlandish news because they’re under the assumption, it is not something they’ll see on CNN because they’re not interested in “the truth.” Part of this comes from people wanting their biases confirmed. Part of it also comes from a media that has done everything it possibly can to sow distrust among its audience; they will turn to sites not so much interested in the truth as they are their version of the truth.
Zuckerberg does acknowledge there are completely fake news sites and said suggested he might work with some third-party verification services.
In a recent Washington Post article, it has been suggested Facebook hiring an editing team of some sort to do the work of filtering out the “fake news”:
Whatever the title, Facebook needs someone who can distinguish a Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph from child pornography and who can tell a baseless lie from a thoroughly vetted investigative story.
What rules the roost at Facebook is “engagement.” To oversimplify: The more an item is shared among your friends, the more likely you are to see it.
Clearly, that’s not nearly enough. What’s needed to kill fake news is ruthless fact-checking, gut-checking and a big helping of common sense.
This sounds great. It is still a problem in that it would turn Facebook into a subjective arbiter or what is and is not news. This would set a dangerous precedent for the platform because who defines fake news? The LA Times ran an article about a college professor who put together a Google Doc (since removed) of supposedly “fake news” sites that included among others, The Blaze, Independent Journal Review and yes, RedState. People may not like opinions expressed at these sites, but opinion journalism is still journalism.
Even some of the “fake” news sites don’t put out false stories. They just tilt the story very heavily in one direction to get people to pay more attention. The headline, “Obama Says Something That Could Spell The End Of His Presidency!” followed by a clip of President Obama making a statement about an issue, may be sensational, but it certainly isn’t fake.
Is there a solution to all of this? The mainstream media never acknowledges they are a problem. They always see the audience as a problem. People who don’t trust the media at all (as opposed to skepticism) are going to search out the news that best fits their point of view. Some of them are going to choose sites that engage in conspiracy theories or completely made up stories. Others will choose outlets with very sensational headlines with a less than sensational story around it.
Maybe there is no “solution.” Perhaps everything just continues to be sorted out on its own.