Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
Thu, May 23

Editorial: Facebook users: Where have you been?

There’s suddenly a lot of hoopla about fake news on Facebook.

Hmmm, Facebook users didn’t know that already? Amazing.

The Associated Press reports that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg “called the idea that voters might have been influenced by what they saw on Facebook — fake, uber-partisan stories, such as a false one about Pope Francis endorsing Donald Trump for president — ‘pretty crazy.’”

I watched one of my family members share that Pope story on her page and then, as a devout Catholic, brag to everyone about the endorsement. I thought at first she was being humorous. She was not.

Yes, Mr. Zuckerberg, folks believe what they read in their Facebook “news” feeds.

In a nod that just maybe this is true, Facebook clarified its policy on “illegal, misleading or deceptive” advertising, which includes “fake news.”

Good luck policing that one.

It’s a similar situation with newspaper online story comments. We follow links to things commenters want to share with other readers to see if the links are legitimate sources.

About 75 percent of the time, they are not, so the comment is not approved. It’s not that we disagree with whatever someone is sharing, it’s that we are not going to share fake news and become part of the problem.

We’ve warned readers here before - find where the story originated before you believe it, especially something that pops up in a social media feed.

Fake news has become big business. Just ask the very successful fake news generator that the Washington Post interviewed recently. He is pulling in the money and getting everyone to believe his writings.

The Post reports that Donald Trump’s son Eric and his campaign manager tweeted links to one of this guy’s fake articles.

Google has even been tripped up the lost-in-reality writer’s stories.

So, how can you believe what you read while scrolling through your social media feeds?

The Washington Post reports a few college students have created FiB – a browser extension “that tags links in Facebook feeds as verified or not verified by taking into account factors such as the source’s credibility and cross-checking the content with other news stories. Where a post appears to be false, the plug-in will provide a summary of more credible information on the topic online.”

Seems like this is a no-brainer and someone better get moving to provide this to the world.

We need it … before we hear about the alien spaceship port that Trump is putting on the back of the White House and before the Pope becomes a U.S. Supreme Court Justice nominee.


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