Facebook and Fake News
Recently, the topic of “fake news” has come into the national limelight, primarily in the political arena. Today, I’d like to steer clear of that particular discussion and instead focus on the steps one social media platform is taking to counteract fake news and the impact it has had on marketers. This article from Marketing Land does a great job of setting the stage and giving context to this discussion.
In November 2016, Mark Zuckerburg wrote a Facebook post about the issue of fake news specifically on Facebook. In the post, he outlined steps that the social media giant will be taking to curtail the spread of misinformation.
Of particular interest to marketers is the ability of users to report fake news in the drop-down menu at the top right of each post. Facebook users have always had the ability to report inappropriate content. But now, there is a separate option to flag a post or article as fake news.
Once a post is flagged enough times as being fake, it is then sent to third-party reviewers. If, upon review, the post is found to be unsubstantiated, it will have a warning label associating it as “disputed” content. A post that has this label will not be allowed to be boosted or advertised. It can still be shared, but anytime a user goes to share the post, they’ll be given a warning that the content has been flagged as phony.
It further highlights the fact that content being shared to social media channels should be checked and confirmed as factual. Disseminating misinformation can obviously have a negative impact on a brand’s reputation.
As consumers of information, we also have the responsibility to make sure that our judgments and actions are based upon factual news. That has become more difficult with the proliferation of content and unfamiliar news sources. Weeding out the fake from the factual can almost seem like a full-time job in itself.
But this isn’t entirely a new phenomenon. In a blog post from 2011, Villing and Company executive vice president, Jeannine Villing, discussed the need for fact-checking and how the impulse to break news first can cause nightmares for PR professionals.
As social media sites and online news sources develop more sophisticated means of targeting fake content, making these types of distinctions will become easier. As it stands, we must remain vigilant and aware of the information we are both consuming and sharing.
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