During the COVID-19 pandemic, Facebook and other social media giants instituted new policies to help stop the spread of misinformation surrounding the virus and subsequent vaccine. However, according to new scientific research, these rules may not have done much to stop fake news.
Despite Facebook’s good intentions and effort, researchers say that the structure and fundamental design of the platform got in its way. Because Facebook is designed at its core to connect users with common interests, a few tweaks to its algorithm or content moderation rules can’t stop people from building communities and exchanging information.
“Think of Facebook’s architecture like a building,” lead researcher David Broniatowski wrote. “An airport is designed to direct people to easily and securely get people to and from gates, and a stadium is designed to safely gather a group of people for a show. If these buildings were not designed to balance travel and entertainment against safety and security, people might routinely get hurt. Now think of Facebook’s structure in the same way: it is designed to allow motivated people to build communities and easily exchange information around any topic.”
Of course, Facebook has zero incentive to change the way its platform works. So, in other words, fake news is likely to continue spreading for as long as people are interested in it.
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