Facebook’s Failure: Did Faux News And Polarized Politics Get Trump Elected?


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“If I were to run, I’d run as a Republican. They’re the dumbest group of voters within the nation. They believe anything on Fox News. I may lie and they’d nonetheless eat it up. Many Guardian readers can have seen this quote, attributed to a 1998 interview with Donald Trump in Individuals journal, in their Fb news feed. It’s an ideal quote, but he never stated it. It typifies the kind of fake news and misinformation that has plagued the 2016 election on an unprecedented scale.


Fairly than connecting people - as Facebook’s euphoric mission assertion claims - the bitter polarization of the social network during the last eighteen months suggests Fb is definitely doing more to divide the world. “People have unfriended friends and family members because the fashion of discourse is so harsh,” said Claire Wardle, research director on the Tow Middle for Digital Journalism. Facebook will want to change its enterprise model if it does need to deal with these editorial challenges. Currently, the truth of a chunk of content material is much less important than whether or not it’s shared, liked and monetized. These “engagement” metrics distort the media panorama, permitting clickbait, hyperbole and misinformation to proliferate.


And on Facebook’s voracious information feed, the emphasis is on the amount of posts, not spending time on highly effective, authoritative, effectively-researched journalism. The extra we click, like and share stuff that resonates with our own world views the more Fb feeds us with comparable posts. This has progressively divided the political narrative into two distinct filter bubbles - one for conservatives and one for liberals (a blue feed and a red feed), pulling further and further apart in the run-up to election day.


These information bubbles didn’t burst on eight November, but the election end result has highlighted how mainstream media and polling programs underestimated the facility of alt-right information sources and smaller conservative sites that largely rely on Fb to succeed in an audience. The Pew Research Middle found that 44% of Individuals get their news from Fb.


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Yet fake news will not be a uniquely Republican drawback. An evaluation by BuzzFeed found that 38% of posts shared from three massive rightwing politics pages on Facebook included “false or deceptive information” and that three large leftwing pages did the same 19% of the time. What’s a uniquely Republican downside is the validation given to pretend news by the now president-elect.


The state of affairs is so dire that this week President Obama spoke about the “crazy conspiracy theorizing” that spreads on Fb, creating a “dust cloud of nonsense”. “There is a cottage business of internet sites that just fabricate faux information designed to make one group or another group particularly riled up,” said Fil Menczer, a professor at Indiana University who research the unfold of misinformation. “If you like Donald Trump and hate Hillary Clinton it’s easy for you to believe a pretend piece of reports about some horrible factor Hillary has performed.


Menczer and his Indiana College colleagues hope to better perceive how fake information, and how items debunking pretend news, spread by social media by launching a spread of analytical, non-revenue instruments later this year. The misinformation being spread doesn’t at all times contain outlandish conspiracy theories. There’s a long tail of insidious half truths and deceptive interpretations that fall squarely within the grey space, particularly when dealing with advanced issues like immigration, local weather change or the economy.


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