MENLO PARK – Facebook users are seeing a lot of news lately that’s not actually news. This is because the new Facebook algorithms cannot always detect fake news stories.
Facebook put their trust in algorithms when they fired their entire Trending News Team Staff. Computer operations took over, and pretty soon Facebook was promoting trending news stories from questionable sources.
Some such stories follow the popular Celebrity Death Rule of Threes. One began when David Bowie fell ill, and a death hoax ensued. Somebody in a chat room decided another otherworldly musician should follow, and naturally it was Prince. The world was stunned, and Facebook continued to promote the stories as true. In reality, David Bowie went into a space capsule to regain his health, while Prince took a long vow of silence and disappeared into Paisley Park.
Election years are always filled with sharp satire, but 2016 has been a real show stopper. The stories of billionaire reality show star Donald Trump running for president is itself a laughable idea. He only said he would run as a joke, but it became a popular one. Stories that his poll numbers continue to rise, even as he continues to spout off in true megalomaniac fashion, still has people believing it’s real. If people only realized it was a joke, they’d realize it’s too ridiculous to be true.
The reason such a fake news story blows up has to do with popularity –the more times it is shared, the more money it can generate in terms of advertising.