Did Facebook, Twitter Really Help Trump Win the Election?

Did Facebook, Twitter Really Help Trump Win the Election?

Everyone was relieved when Election Day arrived and the constant chatter about it finally subsided. However, that hasn’t been the case. Social media is no longer inundated with posts about Trump vs. Clinton, but rather with reflections on the path that led us to this outcome. The focus has shifted to social networks like Facebook and Twitter and whether they should play a part in halting the dissemination of fake news.

Did Facebook, Twitter Really Help Trump Win the Election?

The Fake News Takeover

Fake news and its connection to the election is a relevant topic. BuzzFeed’s data shows that from February to Election Day, fake news received 8.7 million Facebook engagements, surpassing the 7.3 million engagements for reliable mainstream sources. In other words, fake news had more Facebook user engagement than real news.

Did Facebook, Twitter Really Help Trump Win the Election?

The Trump connection comes from a Gizmodo report stating that Facebook had planned a News Feed update to filter out news. However, it never went live because the filter would eliminate more right-wing conservative websites than liberal ones. This suggests that there are more fake news sites with conservative agendas. If true, Facebook would be reluctant to release the update to avoid appearing biased. Of course, Facebook denied any occurrence of this. 960,000 people shared a false news story on Facebook claiming that Pope Francis endorsed Trump.

Did fake news significantly influence public opinion? And did it favor Donald Trump because there was more conservative fake news than liberal? BuzzFeed’s report shows that out of the top 20 fake news stories about the election, 17 were either pro-Trump or anti-Clinton. For example, 960,000 people shared a fake news story on Facebook about Pope Francis endorsing Trump. Another fallacy claimed that Clinton sold weapons to ISIS, and it was shared by 789,000 people. The numbers add up to tens or even hundreds of millions of people who were exposed to false information.

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Did Facebook, Twitter Really Help Trump Win the Election?

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff believes social media, particularly Twitter, played a significant role in Trump’s election. He argues that without Twitter, Trump would not have become President. However, Twitter itself faced problems with the spread of fake news. Salesforce considered buying Twitter but ultimately decided against it due to issues with abuse and trolls, which contributed to the dissemination of false news. Brad Parscale, Trump’s digital director, acknowledges the importance of social media in the victory, with Twitter being crucial for Trump’s campaign and Facebook serving as a fundraising platform.

Social Networks Start Taking Action

There is no way to know what influenced voters. But it’s hard to argue that fake news going viral isn’t a problem. Zuckerberg was quick to defend Facebook, but Gizmodo is correct: Facebook still hasn’t denied working on a News Feed update as a solution.

Did Facebook, Twitter Really Help Trump Win the Election?

Facebook and Google have announced their ban on advertisements linking to fake news. While this is a step in the right direction, it does not prevent the sharing of such content, resulting in its potential to go viral.

Twitter, however, has taken a different approach by actively suspending alt-right Twitter accounts. The term “alt-right” refers to an alternative conservative movement that promotes white supremacy and condemns minority groups like African Americans and Jews. Twitter’s decision to suspend these accounts aims to address hate speech, which is prohibited on the platform. Although this may not directly target fake news, it should indirectly help reduce its spread.

A Lesson for All of Us

If you find an article supporting your views, don’t rush to share it without verifying its validity. Fake news doesn’t only apply to elections. On my Facebook News Feed, I see incorrect news articles shared often. People share anything that supports their views, whether true or not.

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Did Facebook, Twitter Really Help Trump Win the Election?

I suppose that’s okay. Freedom of speech in America allows people to share deceptive stories. Some argue that social networks filtering content undermines freedom of speech. However, individuals and companies alike have the right to express their opinions. Social networks, such as Facebook, can choose to reject fake news, just as they do with hate speech.

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