Ever since the surprising victory of President-elect Donald Trump, the interwebs have been flooded with social media pundits arguing the sanctity of Facebook’s news feed. They are of the opinion that the circulation of fake news on the platform helped transform voters opinion and help Trump win the election.
But Facebook CEO, at the Technonomy’16 Conference in California, denied any allegations of the platform’s news feed affecting the opinion of the voters towards the election. He admits that the social media giant hasn’t done enough to stop fake news from surfacing on the platform and there is still scope for improvement in the news feed experience.
Commenting on the same, Zuckerberg stated,
Personally, 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.
He further goes on to add that voters aren’t influenced by a single piece of fake news of the platform, they simply make decisions based on their lived experiences. Zuck, in his chat session, mentions that people tend to believe what’s important to them and the company builds systems (i.e news feed algorithms) to reflect the same on the platform. Thus, one cannot deny the fact that the feed could also highlight fake news about rival presidential candidate Hillary Clinton – but it all boils down to the outlook of the media and the people participating in the elections.
Zuckerberg also says that people are currently trying to understand the (not so) shocking result of the election and searching for the perfect tool to blame for the victory of Trump. Continuing to talk along the same lines, Zuckerberg says,
I think there is a profound lack of empathy in asserting that the only reason someone voted some way because of a fake news story.
He also goes on to add,
If you believe that, then I don’t think you have internalized the message the Trump supporters are trying to send in this election.
He further mentions that the teams at Facebook actually studied the news articles surfacing on the platform and pointed out that content engagement was the culprit. He said that people were more likely to engage with hoax content related to Trump than his rival Hillary on Facebook. And Buzzfeed recently also published a report which stated that right-wing Facebook pages published fake news 38 percent times as compared to the 20 percent of the left-wing.
The conversation then took a turn for the good, away from the elections, as the interviewer David Kirkpatrick now questioned the Facebook CEO about the ‘filter bubble’ — surfacing news based on the person’s interest. Kirkpatrick states that it’s one of the biggest concerns of the users on the platform and Zuckerberg says that the researchers at the company have studied about the same a lot. And the data, he thinks suggests that the so-called ‘filter bubble’ isn’t the root cause of this problem. This research shows that 90 percent of your friends support your ideology but there is a good change of at least someone with opposing beliefs existing on your timeline.
This research shows that 90 percent of your friends support your ideology but there is a good change of at least someone with opposing beliefs existing on your timeline. Thus, the media diversity and the information that one intakes from a social platform like Facebook will inherently be more diverse than that you’ve gotten from watching your favorite news station, adds Zuckerberg. He further adds that people don’t interact with the posts(news posts) they disagree with and the company plans to work on tools to help increase that.