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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Needs More Time to Fix Issue of Fake News

The first note will be about the steps Facebook is taking to prevent election interference on Facebook, which is timely with the US mid-terms and Brazilian presidential elections approaching

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Facebook
Facebook unveils new VR headset 'Oculus Quest'. Pixabay

As countries over the world including India face elections amid the spread of fake news and political interference on social media platforms, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has asked for some more time to fix his network that has over two billion users.

In a post on Friday, Zuckerberg said that Facebook started on the platform sanitising project in 2017 and “even this work will extend through 2019, I do expect us to end this year on a significantly better trajectory than when we entered it”.

“My personal challenge for 2018 has been to fix the most important issues facing Facebook — whether that’s defending against election interference by nation states, protecting our community from abuse and harm, or making sure people have control of their information,” the Facebook founder wrote.

Facebook
Facebook, social media. Pixabay

After his grilling in the US Congress in April over the Cambridge Analytica data scandal and the Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election, COO Sheryl Sandberg again testified at the US Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on election security on September 5.

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Along with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, she faced the committee which is probing the Russian interference from an angle to publicly hold Facebook and Twitter accountable for allowing Russian operatives on their platforms.

“I’m spending a lot of time on these issues, and as the year winds down I’m going to write a series of notes outlining how I’m thinking about them and the steps we’re taking to address them,” said Zuckerberg.

Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg, May 23, 2018. VOA
Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg. VOA

The first note will be about the steps Facebook is taking to prevent election interference on Facebook, which is timely with the US mid-terms and Brazilian presidential elections approaching.

“I’ll write about privacy, encryption and business models, and then about content governance and enforcement as well in the coming months,” he added. (IANS)

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Fake News Spreads Like Wildfire On Social Media

Misinformation can stoke political polarisation and undermine democracy

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Fake news on social media
The researchers noted that efforts to curtail misinformation typically focus on helping people distinguish fact from fiction. Pixabay

Researchers, including one of Indian-origin, have found that people who repeatedly encounter a fake news item may feel less unethical about sharing it on social media, even when they don’t believe the information, according to a new study.

In a series of experiments involving more than 2,500 people, the study published in the journal Psychological Science, found that seeing a fake headline just once leads individuals to temper their disapproval of the misinformation when they see it a second, third, or fourth time.

“The findings have important implications for policymakers and social media companies trying to curb the spread of misinformation online,” said study researcher Daniel A. Effron from the London Business School.

“We suggest that efforts to fight misinformation should consider how people judge the morality of spreading it, not just whether they believe it,” Effron added.

Across five experiments, Effron and researcher Medha Raj asked online survey participants to rate how unethical or acceptable they thought it would be to publish a fake headline, and how likely they would be to “like”, share, and block or unfollow the person who posted it.

As they expected, the researchers found that participants rated headlines they had seen more than once as less unethical to publish than headlines they were shown for the first time.

Fake news
Facebook Adds New Measures to Enforce Targeting Restrictions on Potentially Discriminatory Ad Types. Pixabay

Participants also said they were more likely to ‘like’ and share a previously seen headline and less likely to block or unfollow the person who posted it.

What’s more, they did not rate the previously seen headline as significantly more accurate than the new ones, the researchers said.

The researchers noted that efforts to curtail misinformation typically focus on helping people distinguish fact from fiction.

Facebook, for example, has tried informing users when they try to share news that fact-checkers have flagged as false.

But such strategies may fail if users feel more comfortable sharing misinformation they know is fake when they have seen it before.

The researchers theorise that repeating misinformation lends it a ‘ring of truthfulness’ that can increase people’s tendency to give it a moral pass, regardless of whether they believe it.

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“The results should be of interest to citizens of contemporary democracies,” Effron said.

“Misinformation can stoke political polarisation and undermine democracy, so it is important for people to understand when and why it spreads,” Effron added. (IANS)