There’s real news about fake news this week as regulators around the world come to grips with information pollution on major digital platforms, while big tech in turn tries to slough off its responsibilities.
This week The Washington Post has pinned what’s getting in the way of meaningful action: it’s not (just) bad actors and cranky uncles. It’s the outrage factor that powers the Facebook algorithm as it rewards “engagement”.
It’s not just the algorithmic ghost in the machine. The Wall Street Journal reports that Facebook management has been putting its thumb on the news scale. The company’s 2017 pivot away from news particularly targeted progressive sites (like Mother Jones) while exempting right-wing voices (like The Daily Wire). The WSJ suggests this was a design tool to survive the Trump era.