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BBC hysteria has forced Facebook to crack down on ‘fake news’ stories – which the BBC suggests are responsible for Donald Trump being elected US president. As a response, Facebook are introducing a filtering system that they say will decrease the amount of ‘fake news’ stories on the website.
The claim that ‘fake news’ is responsible for the rise of Trump has not been proven in any meaningful way – and yet it is being used to justify potentially disastrous censorship of news on Facebook. This kind of censorship would seem more at home in Russia, China, or North Korea as opposed to a liberal western democracy.
The proposals could also have a huge impact on the rise of truly independent progressive news outlets that are dedicated to bringing readers the truth that establishment media fails to report.
After the election of Trump, the BBC has aggressively attacked Facebook because it hosted, and spread ‘fake news’ stories about the US election. They say that the website is responsible for the spreading of stories that accused the Clintons of murder and claimed that Barack Obama is a Muslim (among other things). The BBC suggest that these fake news stories may have led to Donald Trump being elected President.
Mark Zuckerberg has strongly defended Facebook’s role in the outcome of the US election, saying:
The idea that fake news on Facebook influenced the election in any way is a pretty crazy idea
Of all the content on Facebook, more than 99% of what people see is authentic
Overall, this makes it extremely unlikely hoaxes changed the outcome of this election in one direction or the other.
The truth is there is no reliable evidence showing that fake news stories on Facebook swayed the election in Trump’s favour. Perhaps evidence will emerge in the future to support the BBC’s claim, but at the moment this is merely a presumptive accusation. The BBC has no legitimate grounds to pressure Facebook over its news content.
The BBC are once again showing just how hypocritical they are. On a daily basis, they fail to challenge fake news from sources which have long been established.
For instance this recent story by the Sun, and Mail Online Papers in which Jeremy Corbyn was supposedly “dancing a jig” on his way to the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday. The story was completely inaccurate and was debunked by the Huffington Post only a day later. The Sun had cropped images of Corbyn walking next to a war veteran and made it seem as if Corbyn was dancing. The BBC though have remained silent on the issue. The Sun has produced fake news here and the BBC seemingly have no problem with it.
The BBC have also failed to point out that one of the biggest proponents of fake news during the US election is now working for President-Elect Trump. Steve Bannon the executive chairman of Breitbart News, has just been appointed by Trump to serve as his chief strategist. Breitbart News were perhaps the most guilty of producing fake news stories, such as this one about Bill Clinton’s “son”.
This story was proven to be false in 1999 by a similar US right wing publication called Drudge.
The BBC itself is no stranger to fake news as this story about how they lied regarding protests over Syrian airstrikes.
The BBC have no real concern about fake news. All they are concerned about is maintaining their grip and control on information in a day and age where new media is becoming increasingly relevant to a public disenchanted with the pro-Establishment narrative.
Forcing Facebook to police itself in a bid to fact check every single piece of news is an almost impossible task, and one that Facebook should not be expected to undertake for numerous reasons, as Zuckerberg recently explained:
Identifying the ‘truth’ is complicated. While some hoaxes can be completely debunked, a greater amount of content, including from mainstream sources, often gets the basic idea right but some details wrong or omitted.
An even greater volume of stories express an opinion that many will disagree with and flag as incorrect even when factual.
If Facebook decides to censor material that it considers to not be truthful, then it will inherently favour establishment media. Zuckerberg has rightly pointed out that often mainstream media isn’t telling the whole truth, or being fully accurate.
Whether or not there is fake news on Facebook shouldn’t even be the point. The simple fact is most of this fake news is easily verifiable. If you are reading articles online, then you can also fact-check online.
The price that we pay for freedom is that some people will try and abuse it for their own ends. If this means that some people get fooled by fake news stories, then I think it is a price worth paying for the same freedom that allows alternative media to challenge the narrative and distortions of the mainstream.