Fakebook: why Facebook makes the fake news problem inevitable

  • Paul Bernal University of East Anglia
Keywords: fake news, Facebook, social media, internet, privacy, freedom of expression

Abstract

The current ‘fake news’ phenomenon is a modern manifestation of something that has existed throughout history. The difference between what happens now and what has happened before is driven by the nature of the internet and social media – and Facebook in particular. Three key strands of Facebook’s business model – invading privacy to profile individuals, analysing mass data to profile groups, then algorithmically curating content and targeting individuals and groups for advertising – create a perfect environment for fake news. Proposals to ‘deal’ with fake news either focus on symptoms or embed us further in the algorithms that create the problem. Whilst we embrace social media, particularly as a route to news, there is little that can be done to reduce the impact of fake news and misinformation. The question is whether the benefits to freedom of expression that social media brings mean that this is a price worth paying.

Published
2018-11-26