Facebook promised to tackle fake news. But the evidence shows it's not working

Sam Levin, The Guardian, May 17, 2017
Commentary by Stephen Downes

The problem with flagging fake news as "disputed" is that it encourages people to try harder. "A bunch of conservative groups grabbed this and said, ‘Hey, they are trying to silence this blog – share, share share,’” said Winthrop, who published the story that falsely claimed hundreds of thousands of Irish people were brought to the US as slaves. “With Facebook trying to throttle it and say, ‘Don’t share it,’ it actually had the opposite effect.”

From where I sit, Facebook faces an unsolvable problem. You can either have both advertising and fake news, or you can have neither. There isn't an in-between. If you have advertising, then you have to have a centralized broadcast network, but unless you control all content (like a TV station) you open the door to fake news. Facebook's problem is structural, and there's probably no way out of it.
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