Did you hear the news about former President Obama, who tried to ban the pledge of allegiance in schools just before leaving office?
This internet-based story went viral, earning about two million Facebook engagements. But the problem with this reporting is that it’s entirely false, notes Charles Matz, associate professor of Interior Design and director of NYIT’s Center for Data Visualization, Entertainment, and Education Engineering in an op-ed published by Investor’s Business Daily.
“Facebook, Google, Twitter, and other Silicon Valley giants have made it easy to propagate misleading, inaccurate, and false click bait news and stories. They’ve taken only sparse and tentative steps to stop the spread of misinformation. This needs to change,” Matz argues.
Social media platforms generate revenue by selling ads. To attract and engage users, they need to curate entertaining and provocative content, according to the op-ed. The companies use algorithms to identify popular articles—regardless of their validity—and prominently place them in users’ news feeds. In fact, one analyst reported that by the end of the 2016 election, false stories spread faster on Facebook than credible news stories.
Social media companies portray themselves as champions of social responsibility. However, their attempts to reign in fake news have been lackluster, Matz argues.
Google, Facebook, and Twitter aren’t struggling startups; they’re some of the largest companies in the world. “Given their vast influence, privileged positions, and near-bottomless resources, they have an obligation to create a viable, cohesive strategy that stems the dissemination of false information,” Matz concludes.
This op-ed is part of an NYIT thought-leadership campaign designed to help generate awareness and build reputation for the institution on topics of national relevance. Read more op-eds by NYIT experts.