As we approached the end of the American election campaign, something extraordinary happened. Trending news stories on Facebook, which also happened to be false, generated more engagement with users than top stories from well-known such as the New York Times and the Washington Post, according to a BuzzFeed News analysis. While Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has dismissed the notion that fake news stories shared on the site had an impact on the election, it is hard to ignore the amount of traction they gained online. For example, four stories shared by the website Ending the Fed, which claimed Pope Francis endorsed Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton sold weapons to ISIS and was disqualified from holding federal office and the FBI director had received millions of dollars from the Clinton Foundation, generated approximately 2,953,000 Facebook engagements in the three months leading up to Election Day. As Facebook, now the primary news source for people under 35, uses algorithms to make the site more personal to its users by presenting information they may find more interesting or to their liking, it may also be complicit in spreading false news stories and exacerbating peoples own biases, which could also have a detrimental effect to society.

How can websites like Facebook appropriately manage their algorithms in order to avoid the spread of fake news stories as we saw throughout the American election, without being seen as suffocating the idea of free speech?



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