Share your political opinions, but don’t be boring! Social media promotes exciting stories, whether true or not, over boring journalism.

Is this fake news?

Right now you are reading an article not written by a journalist. We are not regulated to post true and well-worked stories as are professional newspapers. It is completely up to you to determine whether this article is filled with lies, misquoted articles or is distorting stories. Are you up to the task?

Facebook turned 15 years old on February 4th. Since then Facebook has transformed the way we communicate. We can contact friends, family members and associates across the world instantly. We can share articles, videos, blog posts, etc. and comment on the content we see. If we don’t feel like commenting we can also show an emotional response with emojis. Hence it has become much easier for us to express our views and share ideas that we believe others should see.

 

Share your (political) opinions!

The ability to share knowledge, ideas, including the ease to express our opinions, have made a lasting mark on politics. The author of “The Facebook Effect”, David Kirkpatrick, says to The Economist that “You’d be hard-pressed to find a politician who’s been elected in the last ten years who didn’t use Facebook”. That we are able to express ourselves and connect with more people is a benefit to our society and our democracy. Civil groups now have better opportunity to unite and affect politicians. E.g. the Black Lives Matter started as a post on Facebook, and the MeToo campaign was unlikely to have existed without social media.  Lately though most stories about Facebook and politics have not been positive. Fake news, manipulation and filter bubbles are some of the damaging phenomena that Facebook also seems to (unintentionally) promote. One of the most gruesome examples of the effects that fake news can have was seen in Myanmar in 2017, where 700.000 people had to flee. The United Nations concluded that Facebook had been used to spread hate posts published by the military and Facebook later admitted it had been too slow to react.

 

Don’t be boring

The Danish newspaper Zetland has written a book on how our attention is constantly being demanded. Facebook, YouTube and other tech companies earn a great share of their profits on ads. In order to earn money on ads the platforms need our attention. Several social media platforms are uprating content that users will most likely engage with, which often happens to be exciting content such as videos of cats or articles with extreme (and potentially fake) presentations of the world. This creates incentives for professional newspapers to present more extreme (political) views in their stories.

 

Should we promote censorship?

One of the solutions presented to tackle fake news is to censor online content. Facebook is already removing lots of pages, accounts and posts that the social media giant considers as fake news. Facebook recently announced that it will engage in a partnership with the German government to combat fake news. One of the main questions in the debate on censorship concerns who should be doing the censoring; Facebook or governments? Content are being censored everyday from social media platforms so we need to have a debate on whether censorship is the right choice of tool to combat fake news. 

We kindly invite you to participate in our event “Is our democracy at risk” where Jimmy Maymann and Lisbeth Knudsen will enlighten us all on this important and complex problem.

 

Want to know more?

You can read more articles here.

 

Sources: Facebook turns 15 (The Economist)  —  Facebook Has Removed More Than 800 U.S. Accounts Spreading Fake News (TIME)  —  Should the government determine what counts as quality journalism? (The Economist)  —  Kampen om din opmærksomhed er i gang. Velkommen til (Zetland)  —  Facebook Says It Will Work With Germany to Counter E.U. Election Meddling (TIME) —  Facebook Admits It Was Used to Incite Violence in Myanmar (The New York Times)