My TV interview on Channel 7News focused on how the changes Facebook are making to what we will see in our FaceBook feeds will effect us.
My response is that it’s an important move and also a good one in some ways.
If it all pans out according to plan, a noteworthy effect is that we are likely to see less fake news. By fake news I mean advertising masquerading as news content, news that is exaggerated, or news that is downright false (eg that brain transplant you might have read about recently). Fake news has become a major proportion of what we see on social media.
My research shows that fake news has become a subtle art form and adults and kids can find it difficult to detect. Latest stats show that the average teenager now gets the majority of information about the world (about 60%) from social media where fake news is rife and not always obvious. Recent research by Stanford University with 200 children aged 11-14 years old found that more than 80% of them could not detect fake news accurately.
The problem with fake news is that it can present any message it wants, it can sell, it can make violence seem acceptable, or normalise prejudices. It gives us a skewed and unrealistic take on life! This is a huge problem for kids growing up in a world of fake news.
Facebook’s de-emphasizing of news to promote real exchanges between each other is a move in the right direction.
Of course the implications are very complex including the impact on real and reliable news as we will see less of that. On a simple level however, if an outcome from this change is that we see more baby photos, and dogs dressed in cute outfits, over fake content then I take this move by FaceBook as a good thing.