In the dust of the election, both Facebook and Google have been blamed for advertising false new stories and influencing the election.  Even after the election, the top result for a google search of “final election vote count 2016” was a news article that falsely claimed Donald Trump had won both the electoral college and the popular vote.  According to the Pew Research Center, almost 50 percent of Americans get their primary news from Facebook.  Throughout the election cycle, Facebook was littered with false news stories, and has thus been accused of giving the victory to Mr. Trump.  In response, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder and CEO, claimed that “ninety-nine percent of what people see on the site is authentic, and only a tiny amount is fake news and hoaxes…. overall, it makes it extremely unlikely hoaxes changed the outcome of this election in one direction or the other.”

Despite these defenses, both Facebook and Google have responded with policy changes to combat false news stories.  Google has made a new policy that prohibits websites that publish fake news from advertising on Google.  Facebook also clarified an existing policy that prohibits advertising of illegal or misleading content to now include false news stories.

Will these policy changes actually affect the amount of false news people see?  Only time will tell.  However, this problem of misinformation is not only one of policy, but also one of culture.  The a large portion of the population does not verify their news and believes anything they see on Facebook or Google.  How to effectively change the culture so that people are more accurately informed remains to be seen.


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