How Liberals Responded to News that Facebook Will Attack Fake News

Yesterday, we took a snapshot of how conservatives viewed the news that Facebook would try to squelch fake news. Today, we look at what liberals have to say.

The statements below were taken from a New York Times story on Facebook’s new effort. The New York Times is widely seen as a liberal news source.

What the Gap in Perceptions — Between Conservatives and Liberals — Means for the Future of Fake News and Public Dialogue

The differences between the conservative responses and the liberal responses are quite substantial. Conservatives don’t trust that Facebook or the mainstream media (MSM) will be fair. Liberals don’t trust Fox, other conservative news sources, or Trump. Many liberals don’t even seem to trust the New York Times, the paper they are reading as they write a response.

The high level of distrust is going to make the fake news problem very difficult to solve. Having users (of Facebook, etc.) label news as fake is NOT GOING TO WORK! It can’t work when we as a citizenry have different knowledge bases from which to judge the news. It’s easy to believe that objective facts should win out — I personally want them to win out — but in our post-truth world one person’s facts are another person’s lies. Facebook’s effort at having it’s membership police itself, while perhaps praiseworthy, has got to be one of the stupidest ideas broached in this debate. Liberals will be marking one set of news fake. Conservatives will be marking another set of news fake. Those who are more in the middle will be very less vigorous in labeling news as fake. The upshot of this is that Facebook’s extreme fake-news labelers will create a mutually-assured-destruction nuclear-war-type scenario scorching the social-media earth into rubble, dust, and an even larger fog of dishonesty.

Words from the Liberal Audience

Note: these were grabbed in one big cut-and-paste from the Readers’ Picks section of the comments section (because the most highly selected comments were most likely to have a liberal perspective), scrubbed of identifying information, and a few statements were removed because they were not relevant to the fake news issue or just didn’t make sense. The page these were taken from is: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/15/technology/facebook-fake-news.html

This is the same as nothing. 24 hours after it is implemented, Russian paid trolls will be clicking the “Fake News” and “This doesn’t belong on Facebook” buttons on any legitimate source.

Easy Fix: If information is listed as “NEWS FEED,” then the underlying assumption is that it is news. Real News. News that meets with professional standards of JOURNALISM. Facebook could very easily make a determination based on source. If it wasn’t posted by a particular feeder member, it isn’t news.

Identify 50 (or 100 or 150) news sources across the world, all who meet the Society for Professional Journalist Code of Ethics. Whoever they are, (hopefully Washington Post, NY Times, UK Guardian, and other reputable sources), they are the only ones whose posts can be listed in the NEWS FEED.

This isn’t censorship, it is professional responsibility. It won’t be in the NEWS FEED if it isn’t news. Further, this restriction would significantly reduce Facebook’s responsibility for oversight, because the journalists will continue to meet their professional standards, and the rest of the pig poo won’t be called NEWS and end up being portrayed as such by Facebook.
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The focus on Facebook and fake news is partially a distraction from a bigger issue: mainstream, traditional news sources–including the Times–missed the mark on holding Trump accountable and being fair in their reporting over the last 18 months. They didn’t take him seriously and spent over a year harping on Hillary’s emails…and look where we are now. The Times is now finally taking this seriously and has done excellent reporting since the election, along with WaPo, but many other publications and almost all of the cable news networks are failing their duty as journalists out of fear of an autocratic fascist. Nothing Facebook does to squash fake news will be enough to make up for the shoddy reporting Americans now receive from the majority of the reporters and anchors in this country.
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I don’t know whether to laugh or cry that so many people get their “news” from Facebook.
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It wasn’t Facebook that featured for six months a thermometer showing Clinton’s 88% chance of winning the presidency.
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As long as there are operatives trying to influence elections, particularly hostile foreign powers and armies of trolls paid to spam comments sections with fake news or to rig polls, the up-vote/down-vote method of detecting a story’s legitimacy is useless. Meanwhile, Zuckerberg flounders with anodyne “experiments” geared at keeping his aggregate moneymaker afloat and deflecting attention from its most obvious flaw, the lack of bonafides and proof. If the social network is going to expand beyond the role of Malicious Village Gossip, it will need to vet its sources, fact-check assertions and verify evidence. Otherwise, it’s just another trashcan for uninformed opinions.
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Fox News has been promoting “fake news” for years — from saying Michelle Obama gave her husband a “terrorist fist-jab” when she fist-bumped the president, to promoting everything that came out of Sarah Palin’s mouth (remember “palling around with terrorists” about Obama? — seems quaint after the most recent election) Fox has been writing it’s own version of reality since it’s inception. What happened this election cycle was just the next stage in a war against facts that Fox and the Republican leadership started.
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DJT: “Yes, Jim…enough Fake FBI News to dupe the masses.”

Comey: “Excellent, sir…….excellent !”

GOP 2016
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A little late, isn’t it? We now have a praise-addicted con man, leading by lynch-mob language, and his multi-millionaire friends turning the White house into a fraternity house. His supporters are going to be so ripped off, and the fundamental decency of our nation will be savaged in the next four (eight?) years. Worse, they may be so immersed in an ocean of slander and conspiracy lies that they won’t even figure it out. Thanks, Facebook. Maybe you can reverse the election results you aided and abetted….
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Lies and Propaganda are not “News” content… Do you also believe Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity are real journalists?
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We are getting fake news everyday from Trump. The Chinese invented global warming? He believes it so it’s true.
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If it is news it is not fake. If it is fake it is not news. Stop the Orwellian doublespeak
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Will NYT articles be subjected to the journalistic standards, as well? Will users be able to highlight weasel words and evidentiary surrogates in articles, to correctly label them as exploratory / conclusion-based editorial / fiction rather than news?

As a reader, I look forward to a return to who/what/when/where confirmed factual stories. I can find conspiracy theories and alien stories elsewhere.
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Ask any major FB advertiser, FB has the technology and the power to tightly control #fakenews. The proliferation, especially on their site, means that Zuckerberg and Mosseri choose to encourage it instead.
Here’s the ugly Faustian truth: #fakenews probably drives FB engagement and user growth, albeit among an older, more reactionary, presumably whiter user group.
C’mon. Be better humans, Facebook titans.
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“But the fake cat is already out of the imaginary bag,” Ms. Bell added. “If they didn’t try and do something about it, next time around it could have far worse consequences.”

Far worse consequences than Trump getting elected this time around? Really? I think the fake horse has already left the imaginary barn.
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Just when Flynn’s son – et.al. – found something fun to do.
Oh, those tech guys.
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Not long before the election, the content of my Facebook feed changed. I had already isolated myself from most fake news postings, but they kept coming. FB turned from people sharing personal items, and those of their friends, to political postings. Zuckerberg should be ashamed for his disbelief, as well as his staff, who should have been out far in advance of this trend. As far as Twitter, there should be an electronic shock to those who attempt to post falsehoods. Maybe that might make our president-elect to think twice.
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A few weeks ago, 4 computer programmer undergraduate students wrote a program in 36 hours (for a hack-a-thon) that checks the web for references to a given story and labels it as likely verified, or likely questionable.

If 4 kids could do that in a weekend, what is so hard for facebook and the other multimillion dollar companies?
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I can’t believe the absurdity of this issue and the emphasis on the wrong aspect of it in general. The issue is NOT that there is fake news on facebook. Of course, it is fake. This is a juvenile entertainment site for grandmas and children to talk to each other and nothing more. If you are foolish enough to believe that there is ‘real’ news on the internet cesspool then you are the problem and you have no moral recourse to claim that you didn’t know what you were reading was no authentic. No one who reads these ridiculous stories is in the slightest bit interested in news- they are seeking a brain rush of entertainment-java-juice and nothing more. From the youth today who believe that the “Daily Show” presents real news to those who read these internet diversionary sites. grow up. If you want news read a newspaper- this one has it’s own biases, yes, but it is essentially real news. Do you want more? Read the wall street journal, the independent, the guardian, El Pais, El Informedor, Miamai Herald, Chicago Tribune, Washington Post. There, that was easy, wasn’t it? But will this change anything? Of course not.
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So when, for example, I see an article reporting that the DNC didn’t rig the primaries in favor of HRC, I can report that as “fake” news and Facebook will take it down?
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Facebook Mounts Effort to Limit Tide of Fake News

So no more Facebook links to New York Times articles?
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About time!
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It’s worth noting that, for the overwhelming majority of persons with accounts, using Facebook is purely a choice. Everyone talks about finding a solution to this fake news problem, but no one ever floats the option of just quitting the data-mining operation that is Facebook altogether. It is perfectly reasonable to stop supporting a caustic business model. You won’t miss it.
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The skeptics are right: it really isn’t the responsibility of Facebook to vet the news they distribute. But it may be Facebook’s responsibility to stop distributing news altogether. If “fake news” is really a national issue, then the culture of confirmation and heedless credulity that is an inevitable product of elective social networks must then be a national crisis.

But it would be even better if social media users got wise to the fact that their favorite Web platforms are not democratic institutions or public services. They should be aware that if they don’t pay for a service, the provider owes them absolutely nothing, and certainly not the brainwork of developing an accurate worldview for them.
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Too little, too late.

 

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