At this point, almost everyone acknowledges that fake news was a real problem in the 2016 election, and that Facebook ought to be doing something to combat the problem. Even Facebook itself — after a few weeks of downplaying the issue — now acknowledges that it has a responsibility for the stories distributed on the site.
“We had resisted having standards about whether something’s newsworthy because we did not consider ourselves a service that was predominantly for the distribution of news,” Facebook spokesperson Elliot Schrage said at a recent conference. “That was wrong.“
The big question is how Facebook should tackle the problem. It won’t be easy. Facebook has more than a billion users speaking dozens of languages in countries all over the world. Distinguishing fake news from real news — or low-quality news from high-quality reporting — is difficult. That’s especially true in a political environment where any misstep will be held up as evidence that Facebook has a partisan ax to grind.
In a recent blog post, publisher and technology visionary Tim O’Reilly makes a good suggestion: Facebook should study Google’s own experience trying to improve the quality of search results.
Six years ago, Google faced a problem a lot like the problem Facebook faced today: The web was being flooded with “webspam,” web pages with little useful content that were created solely to manipulate Google’s algorithm in order to generate traffic and ad revenue. Google’s successful response to this crisis tells us a lot about how Facebook can deal with today’s fake news epidemic.
Read more at VOX News