Facebook is the most popular social networking site with more than a billion users worldwide. Its massive popularity also makes it an easy target for the spread of fake news, which has gotten it into trouble before. Now it could be in trouble for the same problem again.
Facebook, Google enjoy influential positions
British newspaper publishers have filed a complaint with a government committee in which they cited “fake news” as a major concern. They want Facebook and Google to be regulated due to their wide reach. Since these two tech giants are in very influential positions, they want strict regulations be imposed on them by the country’s communications and competition authorities.
In January, a House of Commons committee launched an inquiry into matters like culture, media and sports, asking for suggestions and advice on what the proper course of action to ensure that no fake news is spread should be. The News Media Alliance, which represents more than 1,100 U.K.-based newspapers, responded to the inquiry, saying that fake news “is a growing cause for concern around the world, with implications for an informed electorate and democracy itself.”
Britain safe from fake news for now
According to the NMA, fake news has not yet affected Britain – unlike the U.S. and other countries – because their news media sector is still “robust.” However, the alliance does warns that the powerful duopoly of the two (Facebook and Google) could put them at risk.
Considering this a major issue, the association has also requested that authorities investigate the role that Facebook and Google play in the media industry. Such a request may be looked into by the U.K.’s media regulator, Ofcom, or the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
Though Facebook does not consider itself a traditional media company, its impact on the news business is unquestionable. Many even see the platform as their primary source of information. A major problem underlying the spread of fake news is that neither Facebook nor Google have a robust system for checking the authenticity of the news being spread on their platforms.
“Real” journalism requires a lot of research an effort in finding the facts. Instead, all social media firms care about is the number of subscribers to their pages and likes on their news articles. Hence, the U.K.’s newspaper industry wants the two tech giants to be investigated. Their primary aim is not to penalize them but to come with a way to curtail this growing phenomenon of fake news.