The role of digital and social media in the news environment plays an important part in people’s habits of reading and getting exposed to news. Last week, both Facebook and Google has been criticized for a fake-news problem. Google announced that it will ban websites that share fake news from using its online advertising service. Facebook also announced in its Facebook Audience Network policy that it will closely monitor and not display misleading advertisements in sites that show fake content. These two recent announcements from the most popular social network in the world show that technology companies can no longer ignore their growing power in sharing and distributing news and information.
Facebook has been criticized for being a place for false news stories that may have influenced the presidential election’s outcome. For example, a false and unchecked story that wrote Pope Francis had supported President Donald Trump had spread quickly through Facebook. Similarly, the top result on a Google search for ‘final election vote count 2016’ lead people to read a story which falsely stated that Mr. Trump was ahead of Hillary Clinton.
Reading all this, I saw that tech companies need to do a better job of improving their algorithms. Even though search engines provide the most useful or relevant results for people, especially during the presidential election period, there are hundreds of factors that determine the ranking of news stories and this needs to be taken care of in a more careful way and be more responsible for online readers and users. Zuckerberg argues that Facebook doesn’t have the power to influence how people think and behave, or even vote; however, I do not agree with this. I believe that there needs to be more effective policy on news, such as fake news, on social media websites where increasing number people are seeking to read, promote, circulate or share the news.