Obama Calls Out Facebook’s Fake News Problem

After a fake story once again made the rounds on Facebook over the weekend, Barack Obama today name-checked the social network while talking about the spread of lies this election season.

“The way campaigns have unfolded, we just start accepting crazy stuff as normal and people if they just repeat attacks enough and outright lies over and over again,” Obama said at a rally in Ann Arbor, Michigan. “As long as it’s on Facebook, and people can see it, as long as its on social media, people start believing it, and it creates this dust cloud of nonsense.”

Obama’s statement underscores something that’s been clear for years and that doesn’t have an obvious solution: Facebook has a fake news problem. False things being spread on the internet isn’t exactly a new phenomenon, but The Social Network’s share-thirsty algorithm has made it much easier for blatantly made-up stories from invented publications to spread faster and wider than ever before.

The problem’s been seemingly getting worse since Facebook fired the human curators for its trending news section, and let the feature be completely controlled by an algorithm. This past weekend it surfaced a bogus story by the non-existent Denver Guardian, but the problem has been endemic in recent months. Almost immediately after firing curators, the social network trended a false story saying saying Megyn Kelly was in big trouble at Fox News (she wasn’t). The Washington Post reports that in September, Facebook trended a story from a fake organization called the “Association of American Physicians and Surgeons,” and also featured a story saying the September 11 attacks were a “controlled demolition.”

Of course, Facebook’s not alone in spreading fake information. Last Week, Buzzfeed reported the spread of tweets that appeared to show the Clinton campaign encouraging people to vote by text, which isn’t possible. Twitter deleted the posts and CEO Jack Dorsey said he was “not sure how this slipped past us.”

Jim Rutenberg at The New York Times has a nice roundup of just some of the fake news stories that have circulated on both Facebook and Twitter:

In the last couple of weeks, Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets have exposed millions of Americans to false stories asserting that: the Clinton campaign’s pollster, Joel Benenson, wrote a secret memo detailing plans to “salvage” Hillary Clinton’s candidacy by launching a radiological attack to halt voting (merrily shared on Twitter by Roger Stone, an informal adviser to the Trump campaign); the Clinton campaign senior strategist John Podesta practiced an occult ritual involving various bodily fluids; Mrs. Clinton is paying public pollsters to skew results (shared on Twitter by Donald Trump Jr.); there is a trail of supposedly suspicious deaths of myriad Clinton foes (which The Times’s Frank Bruni heard repeated in a hotel lobby in Ohio).

Rutenberg says that fake news is the “media’s next challenge,” and he’s probably right. What are traditional news outlets supposed to do about fake stories perfectly crafted to garner likes and shares, thus being propelled by Facebook’s immensely powerful algorithm to the top of millions of people’s news feeds? Some computer scientists even doubt that Facebook would be able to properly tackle the problem of fake news at all. If the last few months are anything to go by, that’s certainly true. It’s election eve and this shit keeps happening.

Facebook did not reply to a request for comment.

Source: Obama Calls Out Facebook’s Fake News Problem

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About steventorresramos

I have over (24) years of Computer Aided Drafting & Design experience and over (16) years of IT experience. After graduating high school I attended a Technical College and earned an Associate Degree in Drafting & Design. I then enrolled at the University of Puerto Rico where I earned an A.S. in Civil Engineering Technologies. While attending the Univ. of Puerto Rico I worked as a freelance Drafter for a variety of architects and engineers. During my senior year I began to work for the firm Planning Management & Development in Ponce, Puerto Rico. Two years later I was offered the position at Mario Corsino & Associates, which later became InterGroup a medium size Civil Engineering, Architectural and Planning firm in Bayamon, Puerto Rico. At InterGroup I became assistant chief drafter where I was responsible for 20+ drafters & civil techs, and this is also where I began my IT training. In 2000 I decided to move to St. Petersburg, FL where I was hired as CAD Manager at Advanced Engineering & Design a small Civil Engineering firm established in 1998. Currently still employed by Advanced Engineering & Design I’m now the CAD/IT Manager. I have also continued to expand my knowledge base in both the IT & CADD fields through continued training, certifications, and attending Autodesk University. I’m currently an Autodesk Certified Professional proficient in AutoCAD, Civil 3D and various other Autodesk products. I have been the President of the Tampa Bay Autodesk Users Group (TBAUG) since late 2007 and a member of Autodesk Users Group International (AUGI) since 1996. I have an A.S. Degree in Computer Networking , a Bachelors of Applied Science in Technology Management and currently finishing work on my Masters in Computer Information Systems. I’m a licensed drafter in the US Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and a Microsoft Certified Professional. I hold certificates as a Microsoft Certified IT Professional: Server Administrator, Cisco Networking Associate Professional and Linux Administrator.
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