Experts say ‘fake news’ on Facebook influenced US election 1

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The US election generated plenty of debate on Facebook – and plenty of news and memes to.

No doubt you saw this little gem or shared it.

How about this piece of ‘news’ about a dead gorilla “getting 11,000 votes’?

Or maybe you read or heard about this ‘bombshell’ against Hillary Clinton?

Well, it turns out that they were all fake!

That’s right, the ABC is reporting that myth-busting website Snopes found these three viral posts to be false. 

Experts believe the amount of ‘fake news’ on Facebook could have influenced the way people voted in the US election.

Griffith University’s professor of journalism and social media, Mark Pearson believes there is an “enormous” amount of misinformation on Facebook.

“I am sure many of these posts would have influenced voters,” he told the ABC.

“Many social media users have difficulty distinguishing between fake and real news because social media literacy is still building.”

So, why would people make fake news?

University of Queensland journalism and computer science lecturer Dr Daniel Angus told the ABC while some “trolls” made fake news for fun, there were other people who did it for political reasons. 

“Some put it out on the internet as a form of persuasive communication, to try to sway or sow seeds of doubt in people’s mind about the character of an individual, or group,” he said.

“Some can be forms of astroturfing, where the story is constructed by lobby groups or other professional or political organisations, to try to attempt to discredit someone.”

But Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has defended his site, claiming less than 1% of what you see on Facebook is fake.

“Of all the content on Facebook, more than 99 per cent of what people see is authentic,” he posted in a statement on Facebook.

“Only a very small amount is fake news and hoaxes.”

In fact, Zuckerberg believes it was “extremely unlikely hoaxes changed the outcome of this election in one direction or the other”.

So, while it’s difficult to weed out the fake news for Facebook, there are apparently a few ways you an spot the fake news yourself.

Dr Angus told the ABC people should be critical when reading things online.

“Obvious sensational titles are one giveaway,” he said.

“Also look at the quality of the hosting organisation, and also if this is something that many different credible news sources have commented on.

“Also there are sites such as snopes.com which have a database of known/debunked fake stories that is regularly updated.”

Did you fall for some of the fake news during the election?

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