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Fake News on Social Media

The election brought about a whole host of incorrect infographics and news articles. People posted fake news on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, along with other social media sites regarding the election. Trump himself posted a fake infographic of crime rates for white and black people. According to Buzzfeed, viral fake election news had a higher engagement on Facebook than top election stories from 19 major news outlets combined.

Mark Zuckerberg has claimed the fake news spiraling through Facebook very likely had no effect on the outcome of the election, and that 99% of the content on Facebook is authentic. “The hoaxes that do exist are not limited to one partisan view, or even to politics. Overall, this makes it extremely unlikely hoaxes changed the outcome of this election in one direction or the other,” Zuckerberg stated on his Facebook page. 

There were posts that said Hillary sold weapons to ISIS or that Mike Pence called Michelle Obama the “most vulgar first lady we’ve ever had.” All of them were found false from hoax sites.

Now, Google is funding automated fact-checking software in order to combat fake news traveling through social media. The two main features will inform readers if something reported has already been shown inaccurate, and will also automatically fact-check using natural language processing. Facebook and Google are also now removing advertising revenue to fake news sites.

According to the Pew Research Center, 62% of U.S. adults get news on social media. Over half of America potentially receiving hoax news is enough to take the issue of fake news seriously, and leaving the door open to disinformation arguably does far more damage than censorship and automatic fact-checking.

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