Close to 70 percent of Americans get news from social media, according to the Pew Research Center. However, many of these individuals expect social media news to be inaccurate. So why do people still rely on social media for news consumption if they don’t believe its credibility?
People like the convenience, ability to interact with others, and timeliness when viewing news on social media the same Pew study reports. As a result, social media news consumption is not going away. But, social networks – including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube – have taken steps to improve the accuracy and transparency of news that’s shared on their platforms.
A big issue has been the rampant spread of fake accounts. Many of these accounts have been the source of fake news and propaganda. For example, last month, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube removed several hundred accounts linked to Iran and Russia. These accounts published posts that featured fake news and propaganda in line with Iranian interests.
Facebook has taken bold steps to remove fake accounts. “With advances in machine learning, we have now built systems that block millions of fake accounts every day. In total, we removed more than one billion fake accounts — the vast majority within minutes of being created and before they could do any harm,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote last week.
Other social networks have also taken steps to remove fake accounts. This past July, Twitter removed tens of millions of accounts the platform believed to be fake. LinkedIn employs a scoring system to thwart fake accounts. LinkedIn reported that this system recently caught five million fake accounts from registering in one day.
Other efforts to combat fake news include:
- Facebook has started fact-checking photos and videos.
- Facebook and Twitter have both rolled out policies for political advertisers.
- Facebook also contributed $1 million to the News Literacy Project that helps teach students how to spot fake news.
Are these efforts enough to restore consumer trust? Last month, Gallup and Knight Foundation published a report that indicated no. Eighty-five percent of Americans don’t think social networks are doing enough to stop the spread of fake news, according to this report (based on a survey of over 1,000 U.S. adults). This report also found that an important component to restoring trust is transparency. People want to know why they’re receiving certain posts on their news feeds as opposed to others. However, Facebook has never revealed exactly how their algorithm works although they have provided some insights in this video.
Only time will tell if these efforts improve consumer trust in social media. Regardless, we do know that people will still consume news on social media.
By Rob Philips, Vice President, Digital & Social Media, Story Partners