Although the use of the term fake news has increased in popularity, fake news is not a new phenomenon and has been around for years. What has changed however, is its speed of distribution and ability to alter public opinion. Since the conclusion of the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election, many have speculated on how fake news has become a powerful force in the media.
Through social media websites like Facebook, fake news stories can reach millions of people. Currently, fake news websites have not only been able to advertise their content on social media platforms, but have also been able to acquire information on their fellow advertisers. This is a problem because advertisers must compete to display their content on Facebook. Due the rise of fake news, advertisers must pay more money to show their products on the platform because they are now competing with more organizations. This financial barrier has discouraged some from using Facebook to display their content. Additionally, information about advertisers has been leaked to fake news websites, leading to many potential lawsuits from advertisers and third parties. All of these problems stem from the algorithm Facebook uses to display articles. The algorithm has increased demand for fake news stories because it prioritizes engagement, shock value, and viewership. The only way to solve this problem is to have the top talent in software design repair the algorithm.
Due to increased pressure from governments and advertisers, Facebook has tried to combat fake news. For example, Facebook provides its users with an option to flag articles and has contracted fact checking companies. While these initiatives are an important part of the solution, they are not enough. Rather, a better solution involves adjusting the article selection algorithm as opposed to leaving users and third party companies in charge of manually fact-checking stories. The only problem is that devising such an algorithm is quite difficult and has stumped Facebook; there needs to be an influx of new talent and ideas to create such a solution. To help foster this creative energy, Facebook should hold a competition in which participants send in their solutions and original ideas. Netflix held a similar competition to help create an algorithm that would predict user ratings and offered the winner one million dollars. Facebook should do the exact same, as the competition helped Netflix achieve its desired goal.
Dealing with fake news has become one of the most pressing concerns for Facebook today. Fake news, not only harms the public image of Facebook as a respected repository of news, but it also has severe financial implications for the company as well. By hosting a competition, Facebook will be able to limit the power and influence of fake news.