The result of the 2016 presidential election took the traditional media by surprise. Most polls and forecasts were projecting Hillary Clinton to be the winner of the presidential race. After the results of the political contest sank in, many felt that the media had been out of touch with voters before Election Day. Many analysts and political pundits who felt they had their finger on the pulse of the nation got it wrong. Now, as many are trying to adjust to the reality of a Trump presidency, those same analysts are looking at what may have driven the wave of support for Donald J. Trump.
Facebook CEO Defends Facebook News Feed
Some are looking at the Facebook News Feed as an element in the success of Donald J. Trump at the polls. As more and more people are turning away from mainstream media, the Facebook News Feed becomes a source of information. However, the information on Facebook is not always reliable. This election campaign saw a record number of false stories circulating on social networks.
Fake news pretending to report on the two presidential candidates flooded the internet. But Facebook’s chief executive says that it would be too much to credit those stories on Facebook with getting Donald J. Trump elected to the White House. This Thursday, Mark Zuckerberg dismissed the assumption as a “crazy idea”. He also said that there is a more important message to Donald J. Trump’s victory at the polls.
“I do think that there is a certain profound lack of empathy in asserting that the only reason why someone could have voted the way that they did as because they saw some fake news. I think if you believe that, then I don’t think you have internalized the message that Trump supporters are trying to send in this election,”
said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Fake News Stories on Facebook
After the election, Facebook received criticism that the algorithms that control the Trending box helped the spread of fake news. The assumption is that those fake news stories influenced voter behavior right before Election Day.
There were fake news stories on both sides of the presidential race. And it is true that they may have contributed to creating a picture of a polarized, divided America. The stories may have led to misunderstandings and may have influenced the decision of voters. But Facebook does not editorialize the content that shows up in a user’s news feed. So far, the social network has stayed away from making any decisions about what should and what shouldn’t show up in social media. Even as Facebook becomes a major source for news.
Joshua Benton is the director of the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. He feels that Facebook should take a more active role regarding the content that is distributed on the social network.
“Our democracy has a lot of problems, but there are few things that could impact it for the better more than Facebook starting to care – really care – about the truthfulness of the news that its users share and take in,”
says Joshua Benton.
Image source: here.