“Fake news” has become a hot-button topic after the surprising 2016 presidential election, in which Donald Trump won. Many on the liberal side have stated that people sharing “fake news” stories on Facebook swayed the election by spreading deliberate lies that painted Hillary Clinton and other liberal causes in a negative light.
However, many conservative officials have been just as concerned, as “fake news” spread by liberal people have also painted them in a negative light.
To combat this flood of problematic posts, George Soros, the liberal billionaire and Hungarian financier, will help fund a fact-checking initiative on Facebook that will flag “fake news” and help protect people from misinformation. There are many people praising this idea, though many are worried about what it could mean for the future of Facebook.
What Is Fake News?
“Fake news” comes from stories posted online on questionable sites or those that are either making up stories or reporting rumors and conspiracy theories as true news. This is different from sites like “The Onion,” as they explicitly label themselves as a parody or satirical site. These are typically sites with a specific agenda that report stories that have no grounding in reality.
Examples of this from both sides of the political fence are “Pizzagate,” which includes allegations that Hillary Clinton and other Democrats are committing sex crimes in a pizzeria, and reports of Donald Trump saying things he didn’t say. For example, many people still share the meme of him saying that he would run for president as a Republican “as they were stupider” and easier to manipulate. He never said anything like this.
How Soros’ Initiative Can Help
George Soros’ funding will help Facebook implement a non-profit and apolitical fact checker that will automatically gauge each piece of content posted on the site. It will then let users know whether or not the stories have passed fact check. For example, stories will be checked out by both ABC, Snopes, and other groups to ensure they are real.
The idea is to create a positive and truthful environment on Facebook that will help stem the tide of harmful “fake news” that has spread so much wrong information. People tend to do very little research before posting a story from a preferred news site, and this may help stem that tide.
There Are Some Complaints
Some conservative commentators, particularly those of the “alt-right” movement” have claimed that Soros’ involvement with the project shows a liberal bias and they are worried that conservative content will be censored and removed in favor of liberal ideas.
George Soros has stated multiple times that it is a bipartisan effort and that conservative fact checkers will be included to help balance the fairness of the process.
Whatever the complaints, it is important that somebody do something to help eliminate the negative cycle of “fake news” that is misinforming so much of the American public. Continual denial of reality could put them in a state to be more easily manipulated or cause them to turn further away from their government and the culture around them.