It doesn’t matter what side of the Presidential election you were on, one thing that we can agree on is how much social media and fake news impacted the decisions of many voters. Google and Facebook now realize that having incorrect information is just as bad as having none and they are working together to ban fake news sites from their platforms.
The U.S election was extremely popular on social media and the closer we got to November 8th the more intense and more frequent the posting became. While this would have been something to discuss before the election Google and Facebook are taking steps to make sure this doesn’t happen again. Google has updated its policy to say that the company will attempt to ban sites that “misrepresent, misstate or conceal information.” Google went on to say that sites that do not comply with this rule will be banned from using Google AdSense. Facebook has also updated its policy to rule out fake news sites from using Facebook Audience Network. Both tech giants have explicitly said that they will not advertise fake news stories and will work on their algorithms and continue to aggressively vet people using those services. The behemoth that is Facebook can no longer ignore how much power they have in distributing information to the American people. Google did not escape harsh criticism either and were held accountable for putting too much prominence on false news stories.
But will cutting them off be enough?
While their approaches will make it harder for fake news sites to bring in revenue, they will not completely disappear. Facebook and Google have started to address the issue of misinformation but solving this problem will take more than just an ad ban.
Being in the biz, I’m on social media sites a lot. I mean A LOT. As a result, I see the whole gamut of hoaxes, scams, “like” bait… you name it. The Internet has given tricksters and scam artists the power to reach millions of people though one click. Unfortunately these posts are being shared by too many – which leads me to the main reason for writing this. I’d like to make an appeal for everyone to stop being gullible and spreading this garbage. Just stop.
“Like” Farms are scams solely built for Facebook. What happens is someone creates a fake page and starts posting bait (things to get you to interact with posts). When you like something on Facebook, it shows up on your friends’ news feeds. The more likes, the more visible the item is on the platform. Once that page administrator has reached thousands, even millions of likes, they begin to sell ad space or put the page up for sale to the highest bidder.
This scam also includes those silly contests supposedly from Southwest Airlines, Disney Cruises or some other corporation. First, companies are not allowed to host contests on the Facebook platform. Second, if a company chooses to violate Facebook policy, their page will be deleted. Third, it’s easy to duplicate a brand on a social site for personal gain – logo and all. And finally, if these contests link off to a separate page they are possibly exposing your computer to malware and THAT, my friends, is a whole technical can of worms. So no, don’t trust or “like” those links either.
Recently Facebook has been cracking down on “Like” Farms and is discouraging users from sharing the same post repeatedly and ask for “likes,” comments or shares. These are typical behaviors of “Like” Farms and I applaud them for attempting to clean it up.
What Do I Do If I Share The Dumb?
Did you share the dumb? Not sure what to do? Plain and simple: apologize. Then vow to look for a credible source next time, not to believe all memes or posts begging for shares and deny all requests for personal information. Remember, when in doubt – check it out! Here are a few resources to help you weed out the baloney:
Google – Simply search for the story title to see what else pops up to see if it’s legit. Snopes – Cut and paste the title of the article in the search bar and click GO! Facecrooks.com – Notifies you of scams, schemes and tricks on your favorite social site. Urban Legends/About.com – Keep up-to-date with this handy list of the latest phony baloneys.
Phew. Glad I got that out. Now I’m off to kick the lid off more Internet fallacies. Wish me luck!
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