Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said that the social media giant is taking steps to remove hoaxes and fake news, which, according to some critics, might have influenced the 2016 presidential election. The CEO said work has already started on an update that would allow users to flag hoaxes and fake news.

Facebook
Mark Zuckerberg by Crunchies, Flickr

99% of content on Facebook is authentic

In a personal Facebook statement, Zuckerberg wrote that their goal is to show users the content that they will find most meaningful, and users want accurate news.

“This is an area where I believe we must proceed very carefully, though,” Zuckerberg said. “More than 99% of what people see is authentic.”

Zuckerberg did not provide any specific info about how the News Feed might be changed. However, he cautioned that such work frequently takes more time “in order to confirm changes we make won’t introduce unintended side effects or bias into the system.”  Zuckerberg encouraged Facebook’s 1.79 billion users worldwide to follow updates online.

Identifying truth is complicated

Zuckerberg dismissed suggestions that fake stories played any role in the victory of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Last week at the Techonomy conference in Half Moon Bay, Calif., Zuckerberg said, “To think it influenced the election in any way is a pretty crazy idea.”

On Saturday also, Zuckerberg defended against the criticism that misinformation and fake news on the platform may have swayed the result of the 2016 presidential election. He further underlined his view that the role of the tech giant is not to be “arbiters of truth.”

The Facebook CEO said they are making tools to reduce fake news on the platform but that the social network’s responsibility should be limited. Zuckerberg noted that identifying the truth is complicated. He said that some hoaxes can be debunked completely, but a large amount of content, including from mainstream sources, frequently get the main idea right, although a few details are omitted or just wrong.

Is Facebook a media company?

Facebook has become a got-to news source. According to the Pew Research Center, around 50% of Americans get their news from the tech giant, and only two of 10 adults in the U.S. get news from print media. However, the social media giant has resisted calls of becoming a defacto news publisher and firmly reiterated that it is just a technology platform.

Michelle De Mooy, the privacy team’s acting director at the Center for Democracy & Technology, said that the social media giant had described itself as a neutral platform, but it is creating a product that delivers news to people, “and that’s sort of traditionally associated with media companies.”