Facebook has a fake news problem. The company itself insists fabricated stories account for an insignificant amount of content on its site, but its critics aren’t convinced, and calls for action have only grown louder since election night.
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has issued two responses playing down the impact his platform had on the election outcome. His most recent statement reads: “Of all the content on Facebook, more than 99 percent of what people see is authentic. Only a very small amount is fake news and hoaxes. The hoaxes that do exist are not limited to one partisan view, or even to politics.”
A new report alleges the opposite. According to the article, Facebook is concerned about the spread of misinformation on its site via unreliable “news outlets” but feels like it can’t take action at the risk of being labelled biased.
The problem is one of partisanship, sources with direct knowledge of Facebook’s policymaking claim. The news sites in question are “disproportionately” right wing or conservative-leaning in terms of their editorial content, allege the unnamed individuals who spoke to Gizomodo.
Despite creating News Feed updates with the aim of stamping out fake news, Facebook did not implement the changes because it feared “upsetting conservatives,” claim the sources. Meanwhile, media companies including BuzzFeed and The New York Times have brought to light the falsehoods these sites (many of which are based outside the country) have been peddling.
The company’s crippling inability to tackle the issue is allegedly a direct result of an earlier controversy regarding its Trending Topics feed. In May, a number of ex-Facebook employees charged with overseeing its algorithmic system claimed conservative news was being suppressed on the site. The revelation, and its resulting backlash, led to much soul-searching within Facebook. An internal investigation followed, but produced no evidence of systemic bias. Yet it is now being implied that the damage had already been done.
The Trending Topics incident “paralyzed” Facebook’s drive to alter its News Feed in fear of its objectivity once again being questioned, employees recently told the The New York Times. On the other hand, the changes the company has pushed through (including a crackdown on clickbait and an emphasis on “newsworthy” items) have led to it repeatedly being compared to a media company — much to its chagrin.
Facebook said in a statement that it “did not build and withhold any News Feed changes based on their potential impact on any one political party.” It continued: “We always work to make News Feed more meaningful and informative … This includes continuously reviewing updates to make sure we are not exhibiting unconscious bias.”
However, the contradictions in its recent string of statements do the company no favors. Facebook insists fake news on its service had very little impact on swaying the election, but also touts its voter registration drive that resulted in 2 million people registering to vote. The company puts the onus on its users to flag fake content; the same people its CEO claims tune out information they don’t agree with instead of acting on it. These are exactly the types of inconsistencies that continue to mire Facebook in controversy.
To its credit, it hasbeentransparent when modifying its products. This openness should be integral to its fight on fake news, which continues to tarnish its essential News Feed.
X seems to have deleted years of old Twitter images
The social media platform formerly known as Twitter and recently rebranded as X appears to be having trouble showing images posted on the site between 2011 and 2014.
The issue came to widespread attention on Saturday when X user Tom Coates noted how the famous selfie posted by Ellen DeGeneres at the Oscars in 2014, which quickly broke the “most retweets” record, was no longer displaying. Later reports suggested the image had been restored, though, at the time of writing, we’re not seeing it.
X says it’s squashing the bug that deleted Twitter images and links
X, formerly known as Twitter, says it’s working to restore potentially millions of images and links that suddenly and rather mysteriously disappeared from the platform in recent days.
“Over the weekend we had a bug that prevented us from displaying images from before 2014,” the company said in a post on its Support account on Monday. “No images or data were lost. We fixed the bug, and the issue will be fully resolved in the coming days.”
Snapchat hopes its new AI selfie feature will be a moneymaker
Snapchat was quick to jump aboard the AI bandwagon when it launched its “My AI” chatbot in February. And now the platform has released another feature that, like My AI, also harnesses generative AI.
Called Dreams, the feature lets you take themed selfies and can be accessed via a new tab in the app's Memories section. Snapchat, which has nearly 400 million daily active users, says Dreams allows you to create “fantastical” images that let you try new identities, “be it a mermaid in a deep-seascape, or a renaissance-era royal.”