Facebook Vs Memes: The War Against Fake News Spreaders

From explaining senators how Facebook earns money by running ads to how the company intends to protect elections from fake-news spreaders, Zuckerberg addressed several issues in his recent hearing. However, he kept quiet about his plans to defeat the root fake-news problem, memes.

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Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg was grilled over uncountable sensitive topics including privacy, data security, and upcoming elections in his recent hearing in Washington. The latest data breach of Facebook is considered as the largest data breach of social media that affected more than 87 million Facebook users. During this hearing, Zuckerberg claimed to protect the elections from fake-news spreaders and promised to deal with them using artificial intelligence (AI). However, one question remains unanswered. Why did he never mention memes?

Zuckerberg spoke about his company’s plans regarding the impact of Facebook posts on elections and said, “The most important thing for me is making sure that the upcoming elections go smoothly, and no one interferes with them.” Furthermore, he vowed before senators to incorporate AI to deal with fake news and hate speeches. Since social media is flooded with disinformation, Zuckerberg promised to hire ten thousand more employees who can moderate Facebook’s content to maintain the purity and ensure that elections go in peace. Though it is not clear how he plans to defeat a prime driver of misinformation, memes.

During the elections of the U.S., several political leaders claimed that Facebook played a major role in the outcome of results of elections that led to the victory of Donald Trump. Furthermore, the highest number of shared posts were not articles, but memes, which were passed undetected from the content moderators of Facebook. Social media users had fun in sharing the memes of “distracted boyfriend” or “American chopper Guy”. However, they are now recognized as the prime sources to spread misinformation, trolls, hate speeches, and fake news on Facebook owing to their popularity. As a result, Facebook took several steps against fraudulent news stories. However, it does not include memes as they are hard for a machine learning algorithm to detect.

While the world was debating on the impact of Facebook on community, a post went viral that claimed Zuckerberg invented a tool to detect whether a user’s account is hacked or not. According to this fraudulent post, word ‘BFF’ is animated on Facebook and turns green if an account is secured from hacking. The post was spread like a wildfire, and the fact-checking organization Snopes had to debunk its claim. On the other hand, Facebook CEO is aware of the threat and impact of memes over social media. In addition, he has taken some steps to control it. In March, Facebook announced that it will expand its fact-checking program, which will include images and videos to control meme and GIFs. However, the program is still in its infancy and needs months of research. Facebook has banned numerous accounts from Macedonia that were spamming Facebook with memes based on sensitive topics. The company has used tools to fact-check images and videos in France and plans to expand the procedure in more countries.

Numerous researchers believe that such tools and incorporation of AI are nothing but feeble attempts to fight against memes and Facebook needs to plan some effective strategies as soon as possible. Till then, what will Zuckerberg do during and after the upcoming elections is a major question.

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