I’ve spoken many times on the problem of fake news on Facebook. I’ve ranted about it on Facebook. It is a burden to keep pointing out fake posts to people. It would be great if Facebook automatically checked against Snopes before a post was published, although it would not combat brand new posts. It’s a serious problem, but there is one bigger than that.
The Bigger Problem
Unless Facebook is attempting to completely eliminate fake posts from being published on the site, people will still post them. Fake news is only part of the problem. The real problem is the people posting them. Their desire to feed or collaborate their theories is greater than being properly informed on topics.
I will share my experience. I took the time to point out fake news posts, with proof they were fake, directly to the people posting them. It was as if I didn’t say anything at all. They did not remove the post. They did not correct the post. They did not unfollow the site. Matter of fact, people continued to comment on the posts as if the article was true. They completely ignored that I told them it was fake and continued to post fake news. Those fake articles are created to appeal to specific people and those people feed on those articles as if they are addicted to them.
fact: a thing that is indisputably the case.
synonyms: reality, actuality, certainty; More
truth, verity, gospel
antonyms: lie, fiction
Let me be clear: this is not a difference of opinion. These articles have false information in them. They are wrong and inaccurate but the people posting them do not care about that. I took the time to point out that kids were behind many of them. One admitted he did it for money, recreation and because he was bored. The fake posts continued.
When I was growing up, there was an emphasis on becoming a better person. Everyone makes mistakes but I was raised to learn from them. People would feel shame for being wrong, for purposely misleading people. The people I encountered posting fake news do not care about being factually incorrect. They do not care they are making themselves ignorant. They do not care they are misleading their kids and their loved ones. They simply do not care. All they care about is feeding their beliefs, even if they are doing it with factually wrong information.
How Do We Fix This?
This is a huge, deep problem. If laws were changed so that the people creating these posts faced penalties of some sort, that might help but enforcing this would be challenging. While Facebook is based in the United States, it is accessed by people all over the world. Getting laws set up to thwart the spreading of purposely misleading information, globally, would be a huge project along with enforcing those laws.
Facebook has the ability to block sites from their platform, and that would be one way to resolve the issue, but Facebook is not the only place fake news spreads. What happens to these people if they no longer get their fix of fake news? They go elsewhere. Then what?
How do we get these people to care about themselves again? They are living a lie, a fake reality, and that is dangerous not only to them but the people around them. Many of the people I encountered have a lower education compared to the standards today, which is college. When they were young, college was a luxury that most did not have. An old degree is not comparable to a current degree. Unfortunately, the people I encountered have no desire to education themselves. They won’t even take the time to Google something before posting it. Actually, I would like to see statistics on whether these people post things based on a headline or if they actually read the article.
I look forward to seeing what Facebook has planned to combat this and I hope other social media sites take their lead if it is something that ends up working.