Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Is fake news Digital Marketing gone bad?

Facebook recently started to take measure to combat "fake news" on their site. They woke up after criticism of about Facebook's role in the US presidential election for not doing enough to stop the spread of bogus information on their News Feed.

I believe fake news is an extension of the infomercials. It is marketing a certain point of view that is in the guise of a news strip. However, the marketing of the views may not be based on facts. Considering that a recent Pew study found that majority of US adults get news via social media, the dissemination of inaccurate information is concerning and dangerous.

However, since Facebook is not a traditional news organization nor even an online news portal, it is difficult to hold it completely responsible for people and entities posting their viewpoints, regardless or whether the viewpoints are actually just that or purposeful misinformation. Mark Zuckerberg said the company has “a greater responsibility than just building technology that information flows through”, rowing back from his previously stated position that Facebook is a technology company, not a media firm.

Measures Facebook has been testing in the U.S. to fight fake news — and which will soon be arriving in Germany — focus on three areas:

  • making it easier for users to report fake news — currently by letting users click in the top right corner to report a suspect post
  • badging suspect content with ‘truth warnings’ and down-ranking it to make it harder for it to spread. To identify fake news Facebook is working with external fact checkers who are signatories of Poynter’s International Fact Checking Code of Principles
  • reducing financial incentives for spammers to create fake news as a route to generating advertising revenue by “eliminating the ability for them to spoof well-known news websites and enforcing our existing policies on a more proactive basis”.

These are all good steps towards reducing the effect of fake news. However, I think the fake news generators will find workarounds and loopholes to circumvent these checks. This will be a cat and mouse game like we've seen between virus creators and anti-virus companies.

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