“A new working paper by two economics professors, Hunt Allcott of New York University and Matthew Gentzkow of Stanford University, is the first major study to have a data-driven crack at this topic. Though they do not estimate the impact of fake news directly, their findings suggest that for it to have been pivotal, each fake article would have had to have an impressively large effect on voters” (Nathan Olivarez-Giles and Deepa Seetharaman, “Facebook Moves to Curtail Fake News on ‘Trending’ Feature,” The Economist, Jan. 25, 2017).
Regardless of the impact on that election, Facebook is determined to eradicate the spread of fake news across its platform. “Now, Facebook will take into account the ‘historical engagement’ of a particular publisher—how long a publisher has maintained a presence on the social network—which it hopes will prevent newer fake news sites from generating traffic through Facebook” (ibid.).
Of course, while there is a lot of news floating around that should properly be labeled fake, we need to realize that this has become a way for progressives to promote liberal mainstream media as “authentic” while disparaging or getting rid of news from a conservative or liberty-oriented perspective, which often must circulate through alternative media. The reality is that the bias among the mainstream media and refusal to cover stories that reflect badly on the left is just another form of fake news. We should of course be wary of news on social media—but also of entities such as Facebook promoting some stories and burying others. Even some fact-checking websites have a political agenda behind them.
The fact of the matter is that fake news has been around for a long time—from all over the political spectrum. And with the growth of social media the problem is being helped in some ways and made worse in other ways. This is something we must look out for every day. There is certainly a lot to sift through. Christians need to be careful to try to make sure they are not sharing a false report. God condemns circulating a false report (Exodus 23:1 Exodus 23:1You shall not raise a false report: put not your hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness.
American King James Version×), but sharing fake news also reflects negatively on our personal credibility. (Source: The Economist.)