Last year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg dismissed the idea that fake news spread on the social network had an impact on the outcome of last year’s presidential election, calling the claims crazy in a statement posted to Facebook. He further claimed that fake news made up a small amount of content on the site and credited Facebook with providing a greater diversity of information compared to other outlets, despite results from previous studies which have found that Facebook’s algorithms suppress content diversity.
Zuckerberg was too quick to pass the blame in his initial statement, causing some confusion and damage to the perceived credibility when he walked back on his original statement this September saying “After the election, I made a comment that I thought the idea misinformation on Facebook changed the outcome of the election was a crazy idea. Calling that crazy was dismissive and I regret it.”
After an internal review, Facebook disclosed that it found roughly 3,000 advertisements coming from fake accounts and pages linked to Russia that ran during the course of the 2016 election. The company announced it shared the findings with US authorities and would cooperate in ongoing investigations related to the ads and Russian interference.
In addition to making technology improvements for detecting fake accounts and reducing the influence of spam users, the company announced it would be hiring 1,000 people to monitor automated ads and remove those that don’t meet its guidelines. This approach mirrors Facebook’s reaction to the early 2017 live-streamed Facebook murders and suicides, which Facebook initially sought to remedy by asking viewers to flag inappropriate content, prompting backlash for the company’s lack of accountability over the issue.
The company has seemingly fallen into a pattern this year of resisting accountability and accepting fault only after being met with evidence and receiving backlash. Facebook might be able to put is extensive man power, currently used to monitor “inappropriate content” to better use by preventing such disasters in the first place.
The 5 Biggest PR Flops of 2017:
#1: Facebook’s Fake News and Fake Ads