Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Facebook, Google have to take a stand on fake news

Although I’ve covered this somewhat on my newer Wordpress blogs, I wanted to mention that both Facebook and Google are responding to criticism that the viral “fake news” distributed widely on their platforms could have affected the elections and fed gullibility by many voters.  Elizabeth Dwoskin, Caitlin Dewey, and Craig Timberg report in the Washington Post here

Google has an issue with search engine placement, which it is always tweaking (and, no, it doesn’t pay to buy “optimization” services from quasi-spammers) – we all heard the story about Trump’s wining the popular vote.  And it will soon effectively ban websites that sponsor “fake news” from displaying its ads.

But for both companies it’s pretty hard to tell what is ‘fake”.  A lot of commentary is “Opinion” (like, there is an “opinion rule” in common defamation law).  Yup, claims that Barack Obama is (subjunctive mood) a Muslim, are fake news.  But a lot of it is hard to tell. 

The measures don’t seem to target amateur sites specifically.

There is a general impression that “Google” users are politically more in the middle (more or less like Hillary Clinton), and that heavy Facebook users migrate to the extremes. 

Blogger, by the way, has a discussion (“mystagogy”) of the psychology of people drawn to extremist positions.

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