“The End of the World has Come”


You might not have noticed but the world ended yesterday and social media was in meltdown! For thousands of users across the UK, US, Brazil, Japan, India and Europe both Facebook and Instagram were down. Many of the site’s visitors were unable to access the page on both mobile and desktop devices from 11.11am EST to around 2.36pm EST. A Facebook spokesperson address the issue to Mashable saying, “We’re aware that some people are currently having trouble accessing Facebook and Instagram. We’re working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible.”

Twitter was in total chaos. Being one of the only social media platforms still fully operational its users saw the opportunity to share their traumatising experiences.


This just further emphasises the issues surrounding Facebook user’s over-reliance with the site. With the platform down for a little over 12 hours, its affected users were immediately affected. Hopefully some users saw this as an opportunity to extend their news circle, but in gauging the emotional response it doesn’t seem likely.

(Credit: Jamie White) #FakeNewsFeed


Polity to the Rescue

Issues surrounding Fake News and the soap bubble impact of Facebook’s algorithm are evidently hard to escape. With Facebook being the biggest social platform on the market, at 1.94 billion monthly active users and growing, there seems to be no other option than to accept the influence of the algorithm.20842130_122295231671439_8537875352503009650_n.png

Thankfully there are sites like Polity which aim to “Dismantle the ‘echo-chamber.'” The site pushes this object through a new format of news which attempts to illustrate both sides of an issue citing all sources utilised in the discussion. Through these means, multiple issues surrounding the overuse of Facebook as a news source are addressed.

One of the primary impacts is the lack of alternative perspectives. As previously illustrated Facebook’s news feed works to provide information it believes its users will agree with and thus positively engage with. Thus in Polity’s push to provide two sides of an issue users are exposed to ideas they would otherwise be blind too. While secondly the citing of sources and push for users to explore the ideas further through further research offers more ways for users to expand their news circle.

Regardless of whether it is through Polity or another medium user need to expose themselves to ideologically different positions that Facebook hides from view.

(Credit: Polity) #FakeNewsFeed

Google Hit With Fake News

In the wake of the Las Vegas tragedy, fake news has run rampant with stories surrounding the terrifying incident. Like Chinese whispers, Facebook and Google have acted like platforms for these false stories to reach millions of individuals.

Buzzfeed journalist Ryan Broderick highlighted the fact that Google was promoting 4Chan as a Top story source on the Las Vegas shooting. Google later responded with a statement saying “Within hours the 4Chan story was algorithmically replaced by relevant results… We’ll continue to make algorithmic improvements to prevent this from happening in the future.” By this time it had already been too late, conspiracy groups jumped on the story and it had circulated Facebook and Twitter as people tried to understand what had happened.


Facebook isn’t the only digital service that utilises a recommender algorithm in sorting user-based content. The search engine giant Google also provides information based off user’s previous history. This is worrying in a day and age when Google is seen as the home of all information. So when two users see different pieces of information off the back of the same search purely due to their algorithm the implications are dire.  This only works to further the need for users to double check the information they read. Cross check the sources, look for alternative takes on the same story, don’t let your algorithm dictate your perspective on world events.

(Credit: Ryan Broderick) #FakeNewsFeed

Facebook’s Fake News Defense

Facebook has finally issued a plan to tackle the issue of fact news. On the same day that the company handed over Russia funded ads to Congress Facebook announced it would be hiring 1,000 new employees in an attempt to monitor the ads purchased on the platform. One of the primary issues with their previous “10 Steps to Spotting Fake News” is that it placed too much emphasis on the user’s role in addressing the issue. Now by hiring staffers to actively monitor the issue, Facebook is seemingly taking on some of the inherent responsibility.pexels-photo-440581.jpeg

Facebook’s ad model sees advertisers use a self-service tool whereby they create, publish and target the content across the platform. This system has been in dire need of a reviewing system that overlooks the advertising content much like a Television broadcaster would employ. This new intact of employees could see the start in Facebook eliminating the further potential of user manipulation.

The CEO and creator of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, recently said during a Facebook Live video that he hopes to “make sure that Facebook is a force for good in democracy,” hopefully, this added transparency works towards that.

(Credit: Pexels) #FakeNewsFeed

Facebook vs Fake News

Facebook has started to create awareness to the issues of fake news on their platform. Creating a top ten list on how to spot fake news on your feed. The list was a follows, the uses of it are questionable:pexels-photo-267482.jpeg

  1. Be skeptical of headlines. The first tip addresses both clickbait and fake news, yet the issue is that people are too reliant on Facebook as a news source, so telling its users to be skeptical is easier said than done
  2. Look closely at the URL. The authenticity of a post’s URL should be an issue for the platform as opposed to its users. This highlights the need for Facebook to moderate its platform. 
  3. Investigate the source. With the algorithm limiting users soap bubbles the sources they will believe are subjective, thus only deepeners their dependency on the algorithm. 
  4. Watch for unusual formatting. This tip may be helpful in spotting pieces of misinformation but grammatical and spelling errors are ripe within legitimate news sources along with fake news sites.
  5. Consider the photos. Here facebook suggests searching the images online. The first good suggestion. Getting a second opinion and increasing the sample size is the perfect way to spot a fake story.
  6. Inspect the dates. Again the only way to check the clarity of the dates is to search elsewhere, expanding the number of sources influencing the user.
  7. Check the evidence. While checking sources is a great way of determining the validity of an article, users get their news from Facebook due to its ease. This could lead to a possible addition to the platform whereby content is verified much like an account is verified by the medium.
  8. Look at other reports. If no other news source is reporting the same story, it may indicate that the story is false. If the story is reported by multiple sources you trust, it’s more likely to be true.
  9. Is the story a joke? Is this point a joke? Satire and fake news are two very different pieces of content.
  10. Some stories are intentionally false. There’s a possibility Facebook added points to round up their list to 10.

(Credit: Pexels) #FakeNewsFeed

Facebook Under Pressure

With more information continuing to be released in regards to Facebook’s involvement with Russia-linked ads the company is now releasing info to the US Congress. The content of over 3,000 advertisements bought by a Russian agency has recently come under-fire as congressional investigators aim to shed light on possible interference in the 2016 US Election.

15826058_10103377634440301_4588536596609033984_nThe primary issue is that Facebook claims they had no knowledge that the content could impact the election. When asked today whether they knew when the ads were purchased that they might be part of a Russian operation Elliot Schrage, Vice President of Policy and Communications said: “No, we didn’t.” This lack of knowledge is due to how their advertising model works whereby individuals or businesses create a Facebook Page, and a payment method to run ads promoting their posts. Because of this Facebook has a lack of control with minimal moderation, leading to issues like the 2016 US Election.

Moving forward the platform stated, “Using ads and other messaging to affect political discourse has become a common part of the cybersecurity arsenal for organized, advanced actors. This means all online platforms will need to address this issue, and get smarter about how to address it, now and in the future.” Hopefully, moderation can be implemented so incidents like these are not reoccurring.

(Credit: Instagram/Zuck) #FakeNewsFeed

Promoting Fake News

It’s been established that Facebook, the largest social media platform, now has a perilous role as one of the largest sources of news. With 66% of their 1.94 billion monthly active users choosing to source their news solely from the site.  With users being sold information they are predetermined to agree with the users are left in a vulnerable situation. This is why when a Buzzfeed recently uncovered that 38% of content posted on far-right Facebook pages and 19% of far left Facebook pages promoted false information, the implications were severe.


The issue here is that Facebook’s recommender algorithm allows for these fake news stories to gather traction with an editor to fact-check. In the previous news medium era’s there were several gatekeepers, as previously discussed, such as journalists editors and publishers who fact-checked and corrected media before it was published to the public. Now in this world of democratised news information is being published directly to the public via Facebook, avoiding the previous editorial channels and because Facebook promotes peoples engagement with content they agree with false articles run rampant.

This is where the platform itself has to step in. Facebook has become the new gatekeeper of news. Where once there were newspaper publications and television programs, now Facebook is dominating as peoples one-stop shop for news. It is for this reason that Facebook needs to monitor and control the spread of Fake News, moderating falsified information so the vulnerable public of their audience is not further misled. 

(Credit: Instagram/RealDonaldTrump) #FakeNewsFeed