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Facebook does not want to be “the arbiter of truth”

Although fake news destabilized the electoral campaign in the USA, and extremist organizations, both jihadist and right-oriented, are posting all kinds of threats and insults on Facebook, the American giant does not consider having a responsibility as it sees itself solely as a technological platform, that must not become “the Minister of Truth” from George Orwell’s “1984”.

“We are really a platform and we take our responsibilities on false news very seriously. False news hurts everyone because it makes our community uninformed, it hurts our community, it hurts countries. And we know that people want to see accurate news on Facebook and that’s what we want them to see,” Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer at Facebook declared.

A recent investigation showed that Facebook does not eliminate jihadist posts not ever after the moderators were personally announced, with another problem being the use of bots for posting fake news.


Facebook has begun allowing the report of fake news, suspending 30,000 fake accounts in France.

A new problem has meanwhile surfaced, the live transmission on Facebook of murders, such as a case in the USA, as well as the live murder of a little girl by her father, in Thailand.

“I don’t think we have to be the publisher and we definitely don’t want to be the arbiter of the truth,” Sandberg said. “We don’t think that’s appropriate for us. We think everyone needs to do their part. Newsrooms have to do their part, media companies, classrooms and technology companies.”

Her position is contradicted, though. “They can’t just say look we’re a technology company, we have nothing to do with the content that is appearing on our digital pages,” WPP CEO Martin Sorrell, told CNBC in a recent interview, talking about both Facebook and Google.

More specifically, Facebook wants journalists to check the news, and people report the fake ones.

Nevertheless, the actual situation is not like this at all, since there are websites that spread only fake news and that promote them on Facebook, which then brings them hundreds of thousands of readers, so Facebook indirectly helps them getting financed.


The problem is that it is very difficult for Facebook to make an algorithm that would check the news. Moreover, Mark Zuckerberg’s company has a pecuniary reason: Facebook makes money the more users post and discuss on its pages, as it can display more ads. The more fake news and posts are eliminated, the more the interaction on the social network drops.

The problem of fake news became so big that Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, announced he will raise money for making a platform to check news accuracy, called Wikitribune.

Daniel Higgson