754 Beware Mr. Sugarmountain
So ... what happened last week? Somebody won some election or something ... and nobody thought he would? (Well, except Michael Moore). One comment in the post-result debate stands out: Mr Trump's voters took him seriously but not literally; his critics took him literally but not seriously. The result: President Trump. Ouch.
How on Earth could that happen? Easy: M. Sugarmountain (aka Zuckerberg … what a name) did it! Yeah right, that’s what happens in a country where 44% of people (or could it be 60%?) get their news from Facebook … couldn’t happen in Oz, could it?
Truth is, I still can't believe it happened (I'm fantasising about Trump getting impeached for any one of his misdemeanors). But more importantly, I don't believe it can't happen in Oz. Because, I know myself many folks who are not interested in "mainstream news" and resort to their Facebook feeds for information. God help us!
Facebook, dear friends, is not known for rigorous fact-checking of their content. Is that a problem? Not if you happen to think it doesn’t really matter who’s the leader of the most powerful country in the world and that it’s fair enough Donald Trump will become president of the US in a couple of months.
In today's newspaper:
Zuckerberg offers plan to fight fake news sites
Los Angeles: Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has outlined a seven-point plan to combat fake news sites that played a role in the recent election.
The social media site will attempt to hit the fake news purveyors where it hurts, by interrupting the way these users generate revenue through advertising. Also, the company will devise algorithms based on users' flags of false content to help detect content likely to be fake, and then remove it.
Here's a bit of homework for those Facebook followers who don't inform themselves otherwise ... and then go and vote. I know, I know ... a favourite cliché is, "don't believe everything you see on the internet!" The problem is, it indeed is just a cliché; people do believe the rubbish they see ... if not consciously, then sub-consciously.
Just click some of those headlines, read the stories and weep ... below two tidbits:
Hundreds of thousands of people on Facebook saw a shocking story: "FBI agent suspected in Hillary email leaks found dead in apparent murder-suicide".
The thing is, the story was a complete fabrication, about a fictional FBI agent in a fictional American town and published on a fictional newspaper's website - "The Denver Guardian". But that didn't stop the story's spread: it was picked up by numerous other rogue websites and shared by outraged Americans on Facebook posting comments such as "Wow two more to the Clinton body count!" and "Someone needs to stop that murdering witch!"
While historians and political scientists will be arguing for years over what really led to Trump’s victory, media critics are now pinning at least some of the responsibility on an unprecedented number of fabricated, fudged or misleading “news” stories online that were shared via Facebook, as well as other social media outlets.
Zuckerberg could be the most dangerous person on the planet
Donald Trump Won Because Of Facebook
Facebook v the facts in post-truth politics
Trump Supporters Duped With Fake News
US election shines light on fake news as the new reality
Did Facebook Fake News Win Election For Trump?
Wikipedia: Criticism of Facebook