Mark Zuckerberg Finally Addressed Facebook's Plan to Confront Fake News

November 19th 2016

Willie Burnley Jr.

On Friday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg used his social media platform to announce a crackdown on fake news. Zuckerberg's plan included more quickly identifying misinformation, easing reporting for users, third party verification, labeling articles, and listening to journalists, among other things.

The move is a reversal after the CEO denied responsibility for the spread fo fake news and expressed concerns about “becoming arbiters of truth”

Zuckerberg said that he made the plan to fight fake news transparent in part because of “the interest in this topic.”

After the surprise election of Donald Trump as President of the United States, Facebook took major flack, even from employees, for misinformation spread on its platform that may have pushed voters to partisan and ideological extremes. Articles proliferated on the site included everything from the Pope's endorsement of Donald Trump to the placement of 250,000 Syrian refugees on Native American reservations. Zuckerberg had previously downplayed fake news' influence, calling it a “pretty crazy idea” that it had any impact at all.

After previously stating that Facebook would not become a news platform, others online stepped up in the wake of the election. For example, Professor Melissa Zimdars Of Merrimack College created a list of “false, misleading, clickbait-y, and/or satirical ‘news’ sources” that went viral.

The fake news problem, and the calls to solve it, have raised concerns about censorship. Scott Shackford, an associate editor at Reason.com, criticized Zimdar’s list for including websites that didn't necessarily produce fake stories, but instead offered an ideological bent designed to “advance a particular point of view.”