December 20, 2016

ANALYSIS: TRUE. ‘Fake News’ Is The Legacy Media Shaking Down Facebook.

Robert Tracinski:

An overview of studies on the fake news phenomenon indicates that Facebook’s critics have it completely backward. People don’t form their political preferences by reading fake news, they seek out fake news to support their political preferences. That goes for both sides, mind you, but given the organizations Facebook has tapped to deal with this issue, I have a feeling that in the new system one side is going be flagged way more often.

Yet for readers of those stories, gaining the official disapproval of Facebook is going to be like being “banned in Boston.” For the right audience, it’s a selling point: “Read the news Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t want you to hear!”

That’s why Facebook doesn’t just leave it to users to make their own choices. Instead, flagged stories will be harder to find in Facebook news feeds and won’t be able to promote themselves with advertising. Given how “fact checkers” have played favorites with their ratings, there is a massive incentive for them to abuse this power simply to suppress facts and interpretations that support the other side of the political debate.

That’s kind of baked into the whole idea. After all, nobody was all that bothered by “fake news” until they thought it produced an election result they didn’t like. Then it suddenly became an issue. So from the very beginning, this push to suppress “fake news” is motivated by a desire to suppress undesirable political outcomes.

If you think of them as Democratic operatives with bylines, it all makes sense.