In defense of Facebook

by on November 16, 2016 at 1:16 am in Current Affairs, Education, Political Science, Uncategorized, Web/Tech | Permalink

The NYT offers a variety of Facebook criticisms.  Probably you already have heard the latest:

Donald J. Trump’s supporters were probably heartened in September, when, according to an article shared nearly a million times on Facebook, the candidate received an endorsement from Pope Francis. Their opinions on Hillary Clinton may have soured even further after reading a Denver Guardian article that also spread widely on Facebook, which reported days before the election that an F.B.I. agent suspected of involvement in leaking Mrs. Clinton’s emails was found dead in an apparent murder-suicide.

There is just one problem with these articles: They were completely fake.

Just to be clear, while I have a Facebook profile, I am not a user of the service.  The interface confuses me, and I don’t like how strictly information is filtered through the prism of sharing and social connections.  In this sense I take the criticisms to heart and they influenced my behavior long ago.

But I wish to suggest a simple comparison: how does Facebook compare in this regard to email and forwarded emails?  I haven’t seen formal numbers,  but I strongly suspect emails have been a far more important source of misinformation about Hillary Clinton (and Trump) than was Facebook.  (I do recall Matt Yglesias tweeting an estimate, and it sounded brutal for email.)  That is especially likely to hold for the elderly, who use email far more than Facebook and furthermore were more likely to support Trump.

How about comparing Facebook to what other people tell you?  What a load of crock they are.  People, pshaw.  Just think about their algorithms.  At least Facebook has access to The Washington Post.

By the way, the presidency aside, were all of the other electoral results so truly radical?  It doesn’t seem so.

In other words, we are holding Facebook to an especially high standard.  If doing so leads to improvements in Facebook (NYT), so much the better.  Still, for purposes of perspective it is probably welfare-improving if people get more of their news from current, non-improved Facebook, compared to the relevant alternatives for most people.

Now if you are going to compare Facebook to me and Alex…well, then you need to side with us.  So there is still a case for spending less time on Facebook.  That is, unless you’re going to share our content there.

like-and-share

1 Steve Sailer November 16, 2016 at 1:29 am

I got a tweet this morning from Matt Yglesias about Nazis sneaking into the dorm at the New School for Social Research in Greenwich Village and painting a swatztika on the wall.

Now, that’s Real News.

2 Moo cow November 16, 2016 at 1:51 am

Jewish people are a little sensitive about such actions. I’m surprised you don’t know that.

3 Steve Sailer November 16, 2016 at 2:16 am
4 The Engineer November 16, 2016 at 4:37 am

IT WAS FAKED! Duh.

5 Josh November 16, 2016 at 5:53 am

Her is the real news:

https://www.google.com/search?client=safari&hl=en-us&biw=667&bih=331&tbs=qdr%3Am&ei=zDksWPjiCsGUmQHKkZ2YCg&q=%22white+supremacist%22+site%3Anytimes.com%2F%3Freferer%3D&oq=%22white+supremacist%22+site%3Anytimes.com%2F%3Freferer%3D&gs_l=mobile-gws-serp.3…33588.35664.0.36729.2.2.0.0.0.0.81.156.2.2.0….0…1c.1.64.mobile-gws-serp..0.0.0.Sg7NkundUvE

Nazis and the kkk. Trump couldn’t have won without the support of all 25 remaining members of the kkk.

6 Jake November 16, 2016 at 7:13 am

And of those 25 KKK members, half are undercover FBI agents trying to bait the others into blowing something up.

7 That guy November 16, 2016 at 6:52 am

Sensitive enough to mutter “Goyishe kopf”

8 Mark Thorson November 16, 2016 at 1:38 am

AARP is organizing the revolution to save Social Security and Medicare on a Usenet newsgroup, but I’m sworn to secrecy.

9 Ryan Murphy November 16, 2016 at 1:38 am

How is it that the meme that right-wing Facebook links to misinformation are a thing but such left-wing Facebook links are not took place only days after so many people checked in to Standing Rock?

10 Unanimous November 16, 2016 at 2:14 am

What’s Standing Rock?

For about the last month of the election there were stories of hundreds of fake web sites in Eastern Europe publishing made up stories related to the election. The pro Trump ones apparently got way more hits. Obviously some of this was traffic refered via facebook. I’m not sure why facebook gets the blame, if something’s trending it’s trending.

11 Michael November 16, 2016 at 3:17 am

People blame them because they think that Facebook should be suggesting articles to people with some eye as to how based they are in reality. And I’m not talking about your traditional left/right differences between what counts as “reality”… I’m talking articles about how Michelle Obama is a transgendered person, how Hillary is having a secret lesbian relationship with the wife of Anthony Weiner, how Hillary is planning to stage a bloody military coup in the event of her election loss, how she has a hitman targeting her political enemies, etc, etc. All of which were actual articles, and all of which were approved and suggested by Facebook for sharing.

(And before you ask, yes, most of the conspiracy theories I’ve seen in this particular election were of the anti-Hillary/pro-Trump sort. This is not to say that there weren’t *any* conspiracy theories about Trump, just that there were many more about Clinton. Perhaps something about her possibly-overly-secretive persona just encourages this stuff to come out.)

Given that people these days seem to get most of their news through Facebook, some are suggesting that Facebook should do some quality control, to prevent the proliferation of news that is objectively false and/or insane.

I’m not personally sure whether that’s their responsibility or not, but this is the issue at hand. Right now, the landscape is like being in a room with a million copies of everyone’s crazy uncle at the Christmas party, utterly divorced from reality but difficult to pull away from.

12 Steve Sailer November 16, 2016 at 3:48 am

How many fake campus hate hoaxes have the mainstream media pushed over the decades?

13 The Engineer November 16, 2016 at 4:39 am

How many are they pushing right now? What about that 60 Minutes interview with Trump? Leslie Stahl was pushing a lie, that there were all these “hate crimes”, when, in fact, they’re fake.

14 JShots November 16, 2016 at 9:28 am

I did not see the Leslie Stahl interview but I read the transcript briefly. To say that hate crimes aren’t occurring and that these stories are fake is completely irresponsible. I have two friends in the last week that have been victims of race-related violence/intimidation. Generally these events are few and far between, but this election season has caused the pot to boil over.

15 Boonton November 16, 2016 at 10:19 am

Who cares? A story published in the MSM has a by line, someone’s name, someone’s reputation attached. You don’t think Rolling Stone’s rep. suffered for their rape article? Fake Headlines from Macedonia Inc., though, suffers nothing because they are no one. Arguing, fact checking, click bait is a useless endeavor.

Classic example of the perfect being made the enemy of the good. 10,000 fake headlines are ok because 60 Minutes once got George Bush dodging military service wrong.

16 Josh November 16, 2016 at 5:56 am

What about “trump is an agent of a Russian conspiracy?”

17 JWatts November 16, 2016 at 10:23 am

The NYT’s doesn’t classify that as a fake story.

18 Jeff R. November 16, 2016 at 7:49 am

‘Trump won because Mark Zuckerberg is a jerk’ is one of the more bizarre memes to emerge this election season. Which is saying something, because this election season had already been pretty weird.

19 Andre November 16, 2016 at 2:06 am

Oh I have to disagree from a technical perspective. No developers would want to shout loudly that they’ve replaced humans with a superior algorithm and then have this nonsense filter to the top. Even if they let it go to the top of the list for being widely shared the devs would feel pretty dumb not being able to detect the information was coming from these fringe sources.

20 JShots November 16, 2016 at 9:35 am

There was story a while back where Microsoft created an AI to try and interact/learn from people via Twitter/other chat services and Microsoft ended up having to delete a bunch of racist/genocidal tweets sent from their AI. I think we’re still a ways away from completely monitoring this kind of stuff with algorithms alone. The internet is just too crazy…

21 JD November 16, 2016 at 2:18 pm

I know Hitler is bad and all, but I found that whole episode hilarious, both her tweets and the reaction to her tweets.

22 Ben Smith November 16, 2016 at 2:10 am

Contrarian Tyler is really having a field day these days, haha.

23 JM LI November 16, 2016 at 2:33 am

Speaking personally, I’ve found fake Facebook news to be more believable; I never spent a second thinking about the veracity of a chain email, but Facebook has fooled me in the past, if only temporarily.

24 Tyler November 16, 2016 at 3:48 am

It’s an issue of design. Fake Facebook news sometimes looks real. Email chains always get off on the wrong foot with:

FWD: FWD: FWD: FWD: FWD: FWD: An eye Opener WORTH reading!!!

25 The Engineer November 16, 2016 at 4:40 am

How about all the click bait that’s all over websites, including mainstream media sites? Just garbage.

26 Andreas Johansson November 16, 2016 at 6:33 am

If they’d fooled you permanently, how would you know?

27 JM LI November 17, 2016 at 12:30 pm

I wouldn’t! Precisely the problem.

28 JC November 16, 2016 at 8:11 am

Rest In Peace Morgan Freeman.

29 Axa November 16, 2016 at 2:45 am

Brexit was linked to the Daily Mail and other tabloids which were “full of lies”. In the US, the blame goes to Facebook. The NYT assumes people in the US don’t read tabloids ( or online equivalents) and people on the UK don’t share idiotic things on Facebook. Why? Any facts point at this transatlantic difference?

30 Andao November 16, 2016 at 3:05 am

Why is it Facebook’s job to protect gullible people? They could see even loonier stories in the tabloids at the supermarket checkout, or on fox news

31 Nebfocus November 16, 2016 at 3:18 am

I’m more concerned about who’s deciding what is fake news. We’ve already heard that Facebook employees wanted to remove Trump posts (Zuckerberg stopped them).

Here’s Newsweek declaring Clinton’s email saga was a “fake scandal”: http://www.newsweek.com/hillary-clinton-emailgate-312784
This can easily be twisted to partisan ends and we know which way silicon valley leans.

32 Steve Sailer November 16, 2016 at 3:54 am

Numerous highly respectable professional journalists promoted Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s hate hoax in Rolling Stone, “A Rape on Campus.” Historian KC Johnson has collected their tweets encouraging their followers to read this self-evidently absurd blood libel about ritual gang rape on broken glass:

Jeffrey Toobin, staff writer at the New Yorker and CNN legal analyst, tweeted to Erdely: “You did amazing work, a real public service.” “Great journalism,” he added.

“Fantastic reporting,” gushed Nina Gregory, senior editor on the arts desk at NPR. New York contributing editor Marin Cogan described the piece as “easily one of the best pieces of journalism I’ve read this year.” NBC’s Luke Russert hailed this “extraordinary piece of journalism.” Voactiv’s Susie Banikarim recommended this “important and very well-reported piece on rape culture.” The normally even-handed Richard Deitsch, of Sports Illustrated, expressed “thanks” to Erdely for “her reporting.”

Among editors: Eric Umansky, deputy managing editor at Pro Publica, deemed Erdely’s article—which he said had exposed “lawlessness”—“a triumph of investigative storytelling.” Philadelphia Magazine’s featured editor Richard Rhys described Erdely’s work as “mag[azine] journalism at its best.” BuzzFeed deputy culture editor Karolina Waclawiak celebrated Erdely’s “brilliant reporting.”

Steven Ward, the news director at the Clarion-Ledger, hailed Erdely as a “superstar” who exposed “rape culture at UVA.” For widely published freelance reporter Alex Suskind, Erdely’s article was “required” reading. Former Gawker editor Maggie Shnyarson remarked, “I’d love to get my hands on those little shits.” She presumably wasn’t referring to the campus activists who uncritically championed Jackie’s story.

A tweet from Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg deeming Erdely’s reporting “amazing” survives. But Goldberg had another, presumably more detailed, tweet, in which he also passed along the link to the article. Erdely thanked him for it; many people responded to it. But the tweet has vanished from his timeline.

https://academicwonderland.com/2016/07/07/celebrating-erdely-as-a-journalist/

33 Meets November 16, 2016 at 7:02 am

+1

34 chuck martel November 16, 2016 at 8:32 am

Rolling Stone magazine has already lost a $3 million libel judgement to a dean at UVa over the fictional account and faces a $25 million dollar suit by the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity named in the article. http://www.richmond.com/news/national-world/ap/article_bb73421e-b4a1-50ef-bc5a-0c88b1988bf1.html

35 archaicgod November 16, 2016 at 8:49 am

What is your overall point in bringing this story up? When it became clear that the story was fake, the newspaper and the journalist was roundly excoriated, including by, I imagine, these people who had driven traffic towards a story they thought was both powerful and real.

At a certain point, no matter how close the to subject you are, accepting some new news input requires a leap of faith in the verascity, thoroughness of vetting, and objectivity of the journalist.

In regards to the issue of shared bollocks on Facebook, it seems to me that the issue is the over-representation (back-uped up by absolutely nothing statistical aside from my own experience) of chronically partisan online-only sites where the presence of editorial review seems highly suspect.

36 josh November 16, 2016 at 10:55 am

Were it not for internet comment sections, the falseness of this story would never have been made public. Censoring the “fake news” strikes me as an attempt to return to the days when the press could lie with much greater impunity.

37 Daniel Weber November 16, 2016 at 11:48 am

When it became clear that the story was fake,

No, not as soon as it became clear. People were raising questions about the story and being attacked as rape-apologists for doing so. KC Johnson would do a better job pointing to those people. Here’s a nice one:

https://twitter.com/jessicavalenti/status/539565649874255872

38 Hazel Meade November 16, 2016 at 12:51 pm

Haha, yes, I agree, there was sort of a conspiracy of silence in the first few days. Nobody wanted to admit they thought the story might be fake because that would go against the mission to expose ‘rape culture”. Didn’t help that the first few people to raise questions about it were immediately attacked as rape apologists on social media.

The social media climate a year or two ago was insane, really. Remember that guy who got attacked as a sexist because he had a cheesy shirt with sexy women on it?

39 Boonton November 16, 2016 at 10:21 am

So what? Question can you find anything in the MSM about the Rolling Stone story being wrong?

Call me when Fake Facebook Headline Bot reports “Hey wait, Hillary didn’t kill a bunch of people and bury them in her backyard”.

40 Hazel Meade November 16, 2016 at 12:09 pm

Yeah, I’m surprised so few people questioned the story right out of the door. it struck me as a hoax on a first reading.
Yet, It took 2-3 days for a few people to timidly suggest that maybe it wasn’t completely believable. All of those editors and news directors read that story and not one of them thought it stretched credibility?

41 Boonton November 16, 2016 at 2:41 pm

So it took 2-3 days for a bad story to get outed in the MSM. A more popular story would probably have fallen apart faster but even so this implies as a whole MSM does pretty good error checking within a week or so of any particular story being published.

And we are comparing that rate of error and speed of error correction to what again? Fakebot News Headlines on Facebook?

42 Hazel Meade November 16, 2016 at 4:12 pm

It took longer than 2-3 days, and the questioning didn’t begin in the MSM. The story was published on Nov 19th, Richard Bradley was the first person to publicly question it on Nov 24th, on his private blog. Questions didn’t gain MSM traction until Nov 29th or so, at least 10 days after the article was published, and after considerable social media backlash against the people who were beginning to question it. Rolling Stone didn’t publish their disclaimer admitting questions about the article’s credibility until Dec. 5th, and didn’t fully retract it until the next April. It was basically all driven by a small number of bloggers who were willing to withstand the social media backlash.

43 Boonton November 16, 2016 at 7:15 pm

So the problem is……?

Serious rate of 1 in 10,000 with time for correction about two weeks or so.

Alternatively Facebook’s FakeNewsBot’s error rate and average time to issue corrections is….?

44 lemmy caution November 16, 2016 at 2:44 pm

Sabrina Rubin Erdely was negligent but she did believe her source. (same with any fake hate crime articles) The fake news articles that get passed along on facebook are written to be deliberate fakes.

this stuff is just fraudulent clickbate with made up quotes:
http://www.snopes.com/category/facts/fact-fake-news/

Some are meant to be satirical but at some point they learned that taking the jokes out makes it more likely to go viral.

45 kevin November 16, 2016 at 7:17 am

I’m more concerned with who is deciding what is real news.

46 Boonton November 16, 2016 at 8:51 pm

You mean you are unsure if the world could function if a human being selected stories to feature on a media venue rather than an algorithm?

I wonder if we have ever tried something so reckless in our history?

47 Bob from Ohio November 16, 2016 at 11:20 am

“or on fox news”

Nice virtue signaling.

Of course it caused half the readers to ignore your comment

48 carlolspln November 16, 2016 at 10:25 pm

Back to your Playstation 4 in your parents’ basement.

49 Andao November 16, 2016 at 11:13 pm

Their loss

50 Nebfocus November 16, 2016 at 3:14 am

This article
http://thefederalist.com/2016/11/15/obama-years-stunted-millennial-growth/
made be think of how oppressive it must be to grow up with social media. Adolescents have always been quite attuned to identifying differences in their peers, combine this with the adolescent need to fit in and you end up with a tyrannical culture driven by social media.

51 Steve Sailer November 16, 2016 at 3:51 am

It’s horrible. In the 1970s all the kids laughed when the adult authority figure warned that things you did went on Your Permanent Record.

Now, nobody laughs.

52 The Engineer November 16, 2016 at 4:47 am

Thanks for sharing, great article.

I know myself, my feed is so self reinforcing my already held beliefs, but I at least have some wisdom gained with age. I know from real world experience that no one agrees with my politics. 😉

The young don’t have that wisdom, so it must really be a shock to find that everybody doesn’t agree with you.

53 Andreas Johansson November 16, 2016 at 6:42 am

I must be doing something wrong, the political stuff I get in my facebook feed is all over the map.

(The something may be that I rarely “like” political stuff, so the algorithms may have trouble figuring out where I lean politically.)

54 albatross November 16, 2016 at 12:41 pm

I think it has to do with your set of friends. I have friends all over the map in political beliefs, so I see a range of fake news and bullshit memes, some right, some left, some just nuts.

55 Axa November 16, 2016 at 6:20 am

That article is just a victory lap type of display, but no major analysis or insights.

The “arc of history” framing may be wrong for presidential elections, but it fits good to the marijuana legalization history. On 2010, the outcome for California legalization referendum was a No. Six years pass, the oldest people that were against legalization die and on 2016 the referendum outcome is a Yes. Is political inevitability bad framing for pot legalization?

The rest of the message is just bashing young people for lack of experience. No matter if they were born on 1960 or 1990. Of course young people is dumb, they have to learn by trial/error and they’re the future. It has always been like this. It’s laughable the description of the younger generation as “reduced to tears and going to counseling”. How many? Is the 0.05% of young people in “sanctuary campus” representative of millenials?

56 EHH November 16, 2016 at 3:26 am

Tyler – strongly disagree. When something is shared on Facebook it immediately gets seen by hundreds of facebook friends. Very few people send emails with news articles to hundreds of people. Even more so with talking to people. So, the degree to which the information people are spreading is wrong may be greater via conversations or email, but the ease of spreading misinformation broadly is far greater on facebook. That’s before you take into account that every post can then be re-shared or appear in friends of friends newsfeeds simply when people “like” a post.

57 The Original Other Jim November 16, 2016 at 6:27 am

Exactly right. Also the blatant lies on Facebook are mixed in with things you actually care about. You scroll through your all your friends’ posts and get hit with “Trump wants to deport all Muslims.”

It’s great how Tyler passes judgment on platforms he doesn’t use, isn’t it? Next he’ll be telling us why people voted for Trump, even though he doesn’t know anyone who did.

And he’ll be saying things like this, as if it were a good thing:

>>At least Facebook has access to The Washington Post.

Ha!

58 Rich Berger November 16, 2016 at 7:26 am

Yes, Tyler should get out more. I recommend Drudge Report, Instapiundit and Ace of Spades. Test drive them for a week and see if your perspective isn’t broadened.

59 lemmy caution November 16, 2016 at 2:47 pm

I don’t agree with the Drudge report but it doesn’t intentionally do fake news. http://www.drudgereport.com/

60 Dingbat November 16, 2016 at 10:40 am

100%. Furthermore, one might also look at the economics, or, as they say, follow the money:
https://www.buzzfeed.com/craigsilverman/how-macedonia-became-a-global-hub-for-pro-trump-misinfo?utm_term=.ymB04azX7#.igP1Dkzg6

61 Carsten November 16, 2016 at 4:09 am

The criteria we use to judge are of course important. But I think the key issue (in the NYT article) is that one can easily compare to Facebook’s own criteria: They claim that FB posts influence emotions and that FB can boost voter engagement. Now they suddenly claim their (fake) news articles don’t have an impact on the election? It’s just inconsistent.

62 Thiago Ribeiro November 16, 2016 at 6:23 am

The American regime is the regime of oppression over non-White people inside and outside the country. America’s so-called democracy is actually the Empire of White men.

63 That guy November 16, 2016 at 6:45 am

Yes, we like it that way. In a matter of weeks, Brazil will be our pissoir.

64 Thiago Ribeiro November 16, 2016 at 10:58 am

No, it won’t because Brazil is strong and invincible.

65 msgkings November 16, 2016 at 12:07 pm

Not in 1891 it wasn’t.

66 Thiago Ribeiro November 16, 2016 at 12:14 pm

Yes, we crushed the rebelled navy and repelled the cowardly English invader. Brazil is the only country tht never lost a war.

67 msgkings November 16, 2016 at 12:19 pm

What are you talking about? Leaving aside the losing the Great Southern War of 1891, there are many countries that haven’t lost a war: New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, Canada, Switzerland, Bhutan, and so on.

68 The Other Jim November 16, 2016 at 8:02 am

>the Empire of White men.

I know. Have you seen the President for the last eight years? How much more proof do you need?

69 Thiago Ribeiro November 16, 2016 at 11:00 am

He is just a puppet, like Herod was a Roman puppet and Wang Jingwei was a Japanese puppet.

70 msgkings November 16, 2016 at 12:20 pm

Obama is as white as he is black.

71 RichBerger November 16, 2016 at 7:00 am

Haha, “The” New York Times is critical of Facebook! If only those old white people would stick to pictures of their grandchildren!

72 Melmoth November 16, 2016 at 7:08 am

Who uses email and forwarded email for new stories sharing anymore? That’s a bit 1999, maybe its an academic thing.

73 Thiago Ribeiro November 16, 2016 at 11:01 am

Peope who send emails for me. And WhatsApp has the same effect.

74 Hoosier November 16, 2016 at 7:34 am

Almost always think your take is an informed one Tyler, but have to disagree here. This interview with Jonathan Haidt explains it better than I can.
http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2016/11/15/13593670/donald-trump-jonathan-haidt-social-media-polarization-europe-multiculturalism

75 Becky Hargrove November 16, 2016 at 8:19 am

I used Facebook for just over a year and closed the account last June. It struck me that every time Trump appeared to be swayed by a questionable news source, I had been exposed to it numerous times on Facebook. There were few stories from the left other than the traditional sources such as the Washington Post which I had to avoid because they allowed 10 views per month.

76 anon November 16, 2016 at 8:37 am

Tyler wants to rise above, but MR comments wanna be Facebook.

77 Adrian Turcu November 16, 2016 at 8:40 am

The NYT and others know facebook has run experiments in which filtered content has swayed people’s opinions and they are mad this power is not used for “good”. They are basically complaining that Zuckerberg is not doing the thing that took them into zombie news outlet: use authority to influence. It’s hard to have power and not use it.
But I don’t feel sorry for Zuckerberg, not yet: a year ago at Merkel’s request facebook started to censor content about migrants. He should have never done that. There is no replacement for free speech, even for private companies, especially ones whose trade is free communication. Once he took a step in that direction it was inevitable someone would say he isn’t doing enough. I think he is reconsidering his position now, I hope he realizes bad info is fought with more info, and more open public debate.

78 anon November 16, 2016 at 8:53 am

There is a good stream here on the Two levels of the problem

https://twitter.com/zittrain/status/798594920768475136

Jonathan is right that difficulty of the deep problem should not mean we do not address the shallow one, and quickly.

79 albatross November 16, 2016 at 12:55 pm

+1

There are fake news clickbait operations that make no claim to being true, and that nobody who spends any time looking into things thinks are providing any useful information. Getting rid of those is the shallow problem–it’s basically (as Zittrain says) another variant of spam filtering, and we surely want Facebook to do it. There was a big spike in these close to the election, probably motivated entirely by the desire to make a quick buck.

There are also false claims of fact and invalid arguments put forward by ideologically-motivated sites or posters. Sometimes, they’re things the originators know is bullshit, but they still push it out because they think it helps their cause. Other times, they just believe dumb things. (Along with partisan memes with little connection to reality or logic, there are also all kinds of conspiracy theory memes w.r.t. vaccination, dangerous chemicals in food, 9/11 conspiracy theories, etc.) Filtering those is a deep problem, and is also a problem that puts Facebook into the position of having to be the arbiter of truth. That’s not a position I particularly want Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc., in–I don’t see why they’d be better at it than anyone else. I might like some tools to block this kind of nonsense from my feed, but

And finally, there are news stories and academic papers and official statistics, which are usually motivated by an honest desire to get the facts right, but which are sometimes outright fraudulent (NBC news editing the Zimmerman 911 tape to bolster the racist shooter narrative), other times ideologically blinded (the Rolling Stone broken glass/rape story), still other times just wrong because the reporters didn’t understand what they were reporting about (probably half the stories in the paper). Deciding that is extremely hard–it’s why governments have intelligence analysts.

80 yenwoda November 16, 2016 at 8:45 am

“At least Facebook has access to The Washington Post.”

Everyone with an escape key on their keyboard has access to The Washington Post

81 anon November 16, 2016 at 8:58 am

I find that many sites process view count as the last thing, so if you are handy with to stop button on your phone or tablet you can get the content and not the subscribe pop-up.

82 albatross November 16, 2016 at 12:56 pm

So, everyone but people with the latest Apple laptops?

83 A Black Man November 16, 2016 at 9:03 am

The major media colluded with Hillary Clinton against Bernie Sanders. We have the e-mails. Maybe they should fix that problem first and then worry about Facebook hoaxes later.

84 anon November 16, 2016 at 9:09 am

I am kind amazed at this perspective.

I would have thought that more people would understand that the reason to have parties is to have party favorites, and resources aligned long before the first primary, for those favorites.

If the Republicans had that, we would not have a President-elect trying to get his kids security clearances. Or his son-in-law to translate security briefings.

Parties were never meant to be open primaries, and there was never any party that was happy with last minute switchers, joiners, who just want to run the machinery.

85 Bob from Ohio November 16, 2016 at 11:32 am

“President-elect trying to get his kids security clearances. Or his son-in-law to translate security briefings.”

The story, like nearly every other media story about the transition, about the security clearances was false

But what if it was true. They are not “kids”, they are adults whom he relies on for advice. They seem smart. Maybe they ought to have security clearances.

Your gal had her maid go into the “secure” room at her home and print out faxes without any security clearance at all. Ivanka seems a tad more reliable.

86 Daniel Weber November 16, 2016 at 12:02 pm

How can anyone look at the aftermath of the Democratic primary process, where we got three-time-loser Hillary Clinton sucking all the oxygen out of the room, and think it’s a good outcome for the party? Clinton stopped anyone this side of Sanders who might challenge her in the primary out of the limelight. Now we have to rebuild from zero to find a candidate in 2020.

You know what would have been great? A normal primary with 4-8 candidates from existing Democratic Governors, Representatives, and Senators. Even the people who lost would have gotten some name recognition and practice with the sometimes-brutal playing field of national elections.

Of course, Clinton’s plan for the past 8 years was to create a scenario where it was her or complete destruction, so we’d better back her. Oh, wait, she lost. Oops. Better blame Comey for having forced the party into taking such a drastic risk.

87 anon November 16, 2016 at 12:16 pm

That the party picked is favorite imperfectly is different than parties should not have favorites.

In this case the Dems had too few favorites and settled to to quickly.

88 Daniel Weber November 16, 2016 at 12:41 pm

The problem wasn’t “having a favorite.” (The GOP’s favorite was Jeb, and they still had a primary.) The problem was “having banked so much on that favorite that it didn’t even have a real primary.” A real primary where Clinton won over mainstream Democratic candidates would have left us with possible up-and-comers in case of a Clinton loss.

But the Clintons didn’t want that. Their game theory was “make any alternative to Clinton so horrible that everyone will be forced to get on board and support her. Or else.” Well, now we are in that “or else.”

89 anon November 16, 2016 at 7:36 pm

You can see how this could be game theory. If Clinton was perceived as super strong, fewer wanted to risk a losing cycle against her.

I think it more likely that there were few volunteers.

90 Thiago Ribeiro November 16, 2016 at 12:19 pm

Why do you need elections, then. Just get the one who pleases the people in power. And “if the Republicans that”, Clinton would have won

91 ewig November 16, 2016 at 9:41 am

Meh, my experience is the opposite. In my case, and this is completely anecdotal, I commented on someone’s FB thread about the “Russian Hack” and how regardless of whether it was the Russians or not, no one was denying the content of the leaked emails, and the content is what matters and it doesn’t paint a nice picture for HRC. Then I penned a lengthy follow-on comment but when I went to submit I found that I couldn’t post it and my original one was gone. I’m convinced that my post was automatically deleted by some nefarious Facebook algorithm designed to suppress a proscribed narrative. The other people in the thread did not have their comments removed, but there was no context to what they were saying without my original, now auto-deleted comment. I even talked to the guy whose FB wall this all occurred on and he didn’t know what happened, but he didn’t delete my comments.

92 Daniel Weber November 16, 2016 at 12:05 pm

On lots of sites, if the person who posted something deletes it, you can’t respond any more. It doesn’t have to be nefarious. It can just be thinking better of it.

93 King Cynic November 16, 2016 at 9:54 am

There is a big difference of scale. A post on Facebook is routinely seen by thousands or millions of people. Emails from crazy aunts get sent to a few dozen people at most, and are usually not forwarded by the recipients.

This election I received ZERO emails from friends or relatives about the election, but saw dozens of Facebook posts daily on the topic.

94 bill reeves November 16, 2016 at 10:00 am

I don’t find FB to be any more or less accurate than the New York Times. At least on FB I get a diversity of misinformation. The NYT is completely lost in their religion left religion.

95 anon November 16, 2016 at 10:10 am

I don’t FB, and no one on FB can assume their experience is median, so let’s talk about our common experience: MR comments.

In my experience people are less likely to read something at the NY Times for content, and agree or disagree.

They are more likely to say “don’t believe” the NY Times or the National Science Foundation or Politifact.

This is the deep problem, that reputable sources are available but refused. That is not something MR, even if it was motivated, would find easy to address. “I refuse to believe” is not offensive, just counterproductive.

(I suspect that MR actually likes dangerous minority positions. which flirts a bit with the counterproductive as well. Simple truths may end up underrepresented.)

96 Boonton November 16, 2016 at 10:46 am

“I don’t find FB to be any more or less accurate than the New York Times. At least on FB I get a diversity of misinformation.”

See this demonstrates how unserious you are. I could see someone saying the NYT gets facts wrong on particular stories. I could see someone saying NYT gets facts largely right but larger analysis wrong (i.e. unemployment ticks up but the why that happened is wrong). But literally FB’s endless feeds of fake headlines from spambot fake news services from Macedonia scores the same level of accuracy as the NYT? Grow up.

97 ladderff November 16, 2016 at 10:57 am

Unserious? The UVa case alone is justification for the disestablishment of the media and the public humiliation of its more prominent employees. The actually serious, the grown-ups among us, scarce as they have become, are not saying “NYT sometimes makes mistakes in fact or analysis.” This isn’t about “accuracy” at all. The relevant claim here is that NYT and similar orgs are engaged in orchestrated lying—psychological warfare.

98 anon November 16, 2016 at 11:24 am

Maybe the question should be how narrow your sources are? If you can agree with each the NYT and National Review at different times you might be ahead of those who can only believe one.

99 Boonton November 16, 2016 at 2:45 pm

Exactly what orchestrated lying are you talking about? Keep in mind the comparison here is the Fakebot News found on Facebook which is 0% reporting and 100% made up headlines.
Cases therefore aren’t very relevant here. Thousands of stories are published each day so the fact that some end up being exposed as totally false is about as important as knowing that some planes will crash. Even if you demonstrate an industry wide conspiracy to cover up safety issues, you have a long way to go before justifying ditching the airplane and relying only on ships and planes.

100 Faceberg November 16, 2016 at 10:03 am

In addition to enforcing immigration laws, President Trump should start enforcing monopoly laws.

101 TMC November 16, 2016 at 10:02 pm

He already owns Boardwalk, isn’t that enough?

102 Boonton November 16, 2016 at 10:36 am

First, I disagree in regards to email. Email is still rather personal while Facebook’s share or liking is impersonal. If I email someone an article about “Trump made secret pact with the Lizard people”, I’m directly attaching my name to it and telling someone I know “Hey I buy into this, you should too”. When I do that I put some of my social capital at stake. If this turns out to be total bullshit I will be diminished.

Facebook does not feel like anywhere near that much is invested in sharing or liking. You can put stuff on your timeline or like or share and it’s just there. If it’s total bullshit you don’t feel as responsible for being the fool who brought into it. As there’s little or no cost to your social capital in getting it wrong, bad news drives out good. True stuff is less dramatic, more complicated and nowhere near as clear cut as a fake story tailored to one’s ideological grudges.

The real question is does this matter? Are the fake BS stories like people holding up signs at a football game about being #1, even when they know their team is doing horribly? No one thinks the Jets won the Super Bowl last year despite all the signs fans might make. Nor does anyone think it was robbed from them.

But is Facebook like that? Just cheerleading for ideologues? I’m not so sure. A lot of energy is being put into crafting known lies. Is it all just click bait for those who really know better or is it creating an alternative idea space for those who’ve conned themselves into thinking reality depends upon their beliefs rather than a check on their beliefs.

103 harpersnotes November 16, 2016 at 12:25 pm

Old media attacking new media is an old, old story. Newsprint hated on radio saying they had (more) fake stories. Orson Welles’s 1938 War of the Worlds broadcast is a classic. Propaganda generally (and hoaxes specifically here) are like rain on pavement – they find all the cracks. (.. Paraphrasing a line of dialogue from West Wing.) There’s an old argument about misinformation and Wall Street, that a little bit of misinformation improves the crowd-level critical thinking skills and in effect acts as a kind of inoculation. Critical thinking skills are generally taught in schools as, first, does the information come from a credible source. In an especially heated election many media organizations might be willing to trade future credibility for short term impact on voter decisions. Perhaps there ideas from Wall Street markets on the credibility of information that might be useful for FB, something along the lines of what the SEC is supposed to do. An expanded Snopes into politics perhaps.

104 chuck martel November 16, 2016 at 12:41 pm

“Critical thinking skills are generally taught in schools”

What schools would those be?

105 msgkings November 16, 2016 at 12:46 pm

Isn’t Politifact the ‘Snopes of politics’?

106 albatross November 16, 2016 at 1:00 pm

Fact checking websites are a useful thing (subject to the problem that when you become the oracle of truth, you have a lot of incentive to fudge things to help your side along), but they don’t work at the same scale as Facebook memes or fake news stories.

107 TMC November 16, 2016 at 10:04 pm

Politifact has been caught many times with it’s pants down. Has been pretty partisan at times.

108 Robert November 16, 2016 at 1:50 pm

It’s Amazon that owns WaPo, not Facebook.

109 David Wright November 16, 2016 at 2:39 pm

I applaud Zukerberg’s so-far consistent response that Facebook should remain apolitical, despite a growing chorus from leftist elites, including many in the company’s own ranks, that it needs to use its powers “for good”. As far as I can tell, this latest push to police “untrue” posts is just a tone-adjusted version of the same agenda. Does anyone believe that Facebook would be considering adjusting its algorithms in the same way if Clinton had won? Does anyone believe that Facebook wouldn’t end up classifying right-wing propaganda as “blatantly untrue” and therefore disallowed, while classifying left-wing propaganda as “debatable” or “mainstream sourced” or “vociferous opinion” and therefore allowed?

110 Boonton November 16, 2016 at 7:17 pm

Why exactly should Facebook be pushing known Fake news stories generated by bots whose purpose is to post fake news for clickbait?

111 David Condon November 16, 2016 at 5:42 pm

“So there is still a case for spending less time on Facebook. That is, unless you’re going to share our content there.”

Well, since you asked…

112 Ryan T November 16, 2016 at 6:03 pm

Some quick thoughts.

Ryan Holiday’s “Trust Me I’m Lying” might be relevant here, particularly its closing line: here’s to books.

The facebook “trending” newsfeed is pretty awful, but I was surprised by the quality of my general newsfeed. I found that if someone posted a fake news story this past year, the tendency was for others in the network to point out the error and then post more credible sources. It didn’t always happen, but it happened much more often than I would have expected, perhaps in part because most of my network is very well educated.

I do worry that there’s a growing willingness to accept conspiracy theories — and to reject all sources of journalism except the most extreme or obscure.

Generally speaking, I do think I’m better at using the internet to acquire information than my parents and their peers. I also think teenagers struggle to acquire information from the internet.

Frankly, I encountered the worst coverage of the election on television, though this may be my own bias since I don’t think TV is well suited for spreading information.

All in all, I think the Internet and facebook both allow us to read multiple sources of news. I view them as a net gain.

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