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Fake news on Facebook

Hillary Clinton did not win the popular vote. But that’s because she sold weapons to ISIS.

If you believed either of those two statements, you would likely be one of the countless victims of the fake news epidemic plaguing Facebook today.

Facebook has become one of the largest breeding grounds for fake news on the internet, thanks to its relative lack of censorship and the “share” feature that allows fake articles to spread like wildfire. Because Facebook is one of the most popular social media sites on the Internet, it has a responsibility to protect its millions of users from this rampant fake news.

Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg has claimed that the social media site is doing its best to eliminate fake news, and has made “significant progress.” However, without concrete data to prove his claim, the validity of this vague statement is highly debatable.

One of Facebook’s recent attempts to counter fake news was an “educational tool” featured at the top of users’ newsfeeds; a purple box invited them to click and read “Tips for Spotting Fake News.” But unfortunately these “Tips” failed to cause any lasting change because they were accessible only for a few days, and the feature relied on users taking matters into their own hands. And let’s face it, most people can’t be bothered to do their own research in the fast-paced, short-attention-span society we live in today. Facebook needs to do more.

Fake news exists whether we like it or not, and it will continue to do so. It spreads falsehoods, misinformation and often bigotry, and it has no redeeming qualities other than the fact that it makes money for the people who create it. But hopefully the amount of fake news that exists online can be reduced if Facebook and other sites like it are willing to take substantial action.