Facebook claims it will do something about fake news… yet it keeps stumbling. Let’s start with the end of this story: Facebook will not do anything about fake news any time soon. They can’t. It would cut their bottom line and probably subscribership more than they can handle.
Let’s imagine that Facebook starts blocking verifiably fake news. Hey, white supremacist, we’re not going to let you post that link. This target audience might start leaving Facebook. There are millions of people like this around the world, speaking various languages, believing in various leaders. If you stop letting them share their propaganda, you could drive them away.
That’s fewer people to see the ads you’re desperately trying to sell. Not even Russian troll ads. Maybe just an ad for that ride-on lawnmower. Sorry, X% of your target audience left to use a website where they can freely share their fake news.
While Facebook puts business before users (and users’ safety), they’re not going to do anything about fake news.
Let’s look at one of their fake attempts at doing something about fake news from early 2018.
Hey, it’s YOUR job to see news and analyze it! Look at the web design. Check for incorrect spellings and domain names that you will surely recognize as odd.
And of course, check that the source is trusted for accuracy. If you are a fan of a certain Bart that people find to be Breit, well then that is a highly trusted source and definitely not fake news. Thanks, Facebook, it passed the test.
Can’t we red flag fake news?
Red flags will make confident people and non-critical-thinkers double down. How dare you flag this real article from the Wars of Info as fake!
Facebook claimed they would post verified contrary articles under fake news so people can see the truth (after the lies they believe). Won’t work.
Go figure out which thing is fake news.
That won’t work. And let’s not pretend that Facebook is going to move quickly on this. Let’s not imagine that they will release strong ideas that really get rid of fake news.
That’s not good UX for any interface. We know something. But you go find it. You figure it out. We’ll just be over here, passively.
If you want someone to not see it do something, you adjust the UX so they can’t see or do it. That’s it. If you really don’t want fake news on your site, you allow your UX designers to create an interface where fake news can’t exist. Even if we got rid of 90% of fake news, that would be a huge step. But you don’t make this the responsibility of the user. If you have something you don’t want users to do you design it so they can’t do it.
I got rid of fake news. I stopped logging into Facebook. I got so much of my life back and I suggest you try it too.