Over the past week, Facebook and Google have each dealt with criticism over their control–or lack thereof–over the circulation of illegitimate news articles asserting a variety of claims about the Presidential Election. Many people allege that the spread of fake news before the presidential election had an impact on its outcome, and are now placing the blame on the two internet behemoths. When asked about the social media site’s influence on the election, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg was quoted saying he thinks it’s “a pretty crazy idea.”
Regardless of Zuckerburg’s beliefs, these companies must navigate the gray area of protecting their users from fake news without violating first amendment rights. Both Google and Facebook have taken action to undermine fake news sources by targeting their revenue streams; Google announced Monday that it plans to ban websites that feature false news from using Google-ads, while Facebook revealed that it will no longer display ads on sites known to present misleading content.
Much of the public concern is rooted in the fact social media sites like Facebook allow the U.S. electorate to engage with candidates and topics to a degree unparalleled in history. Critics therefore surmise that the proliferation of misleading political information can have direct and meaningful effects on voters’ perceptions of the candidates, effectively swaying the election.
any websites are claiming that President-elect Trump also won the popular vote by about 700,000 votes. This is false. In fact, Hillary Clinton actually won the popular vote.
Restricting and eliminating fake news and or ads of course enters a very muddy arena because our first amendment rights even protect fake news. As to why this news is showing up as one of the number 1 hits, when you type in presidential election results, is still unknown – so news consumers should be mindful of this when looking into results.