Well, 2016 — it’s been real.
This year has seen quite a number of notable deaths — from Alan Rickman and David Bowie to Prince and Muhammad Ali; and has also seen a great deal of historic and impactful events, such as Brexit, the various terrorist attacks in countries like France, Turkey, and Belgium, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, and the Cubs winning the World Series.
This year has also been an eventful year in tech. While there has been a lot of growth like the rise of Facebook Live, the popularity of AI assistants like Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa, and advances in the self-driving market — we’re taking a look at some events and products that didn’t have such a grand time (in no particular order).
A burst of fake news
Fake news plagued the 2016 U.S. Election, but pledges to combat it only came after the results on November 8. Fake stories such as how the Pope endorsed President-Elect Donald Trump (he didn’t), and how Trump won the popular vote (he didn’t) offered a false narrative that reinforced beliefs.
Things got so bad that Google changed its “In the news” section to “Top Stories” after one search result showed Trump as the winner of the popular vote. Facebook had an even bigger problem as the top three fake news stories “generated more engagement” than the top stories from sites like The New York Times and the Washington Post, according to Buzzfeed News.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently announced plans to combat fake news on the social media platform by making it easier to report fake stories, as well as hiring third-party groups of fact checkers from organizations like ABC News, the Associated Press, Snopes, Politifact, and FactCheck.
Tech giants face a lot of the blame for perpetuating fake news on their platforms, and it’s certainly affecting people. A Stanford University study found that more than 80 percent of students surveyed could not tell the difference between fake and real stories. This year highlighted the importance of fact-checking.