Facebook has a well-publicized problem with spam and fake news spreading on its platform. That issue has only become more apparent during the global coronavirus outbreak, which has seen Facebook cracking down hard on fake ads regarding the pandemic. But why, exactly, does Facebook have such a massive issue with misinformation? According to a report published this week by Ranking Digital Rights, the answer is simple: Facebook’s own data collection and ad targeting.
The study’s authors point to how Facebook’s business model is set up not to educate or inform users, but to “influence as many people in as frictionless of a way as possible.”
“The main problem is that ad targeting itself allows anyone with the motivation and the money to spend it, which is anyone, really,” senior policy analyst Nathalie Maréchal told The Verge. “And it’s possible to do that because so much data has been collected about each and every one of us in service of getting us to buy more cars, buy more consumer products, sign up for different services, and so on. Mostly, people are using that to sell products, but there’s no mechanism whatsoever to make sure that it’s not being used to target vulnerable people to spread lies.”
On the one hand, it’s reassuring to know that these experts have identified what exactly is wrong with Facebook’s system. However, the fact that the flaw is a direct result of the company’s business model means that it’s likely to never change.
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