Opinion: A state of media misinformation



Recently, Facebook creator Mark Zuckerburg added a new feature on the app called Facebook News. The feature will include a wide range of content across four categories of publishers: general, topical, diverse and local news. 

The plan with this new feature is for users to find local, accurate news more easily. So far, this local news outlet has expanded to 60,000 towns and cities when it was announced in late October. 

Like Facebook, Facebook News will be designed on what the user is interested in, which was split into four categories: health, entertainment, business and sports. It will also have a wide variety of publishers in those categories. 

According to their announcement post, Facebook News said that their “criteria will evolve over time” to make sure people are seeing sources that are valuable to them.

One reason why Facebook News was put into motion is because Zuckerburg has been under fire for not regulating news effectively on the social media platform. Government officials have even asked the Facebook CEO to speak in hearings about the spread of misinformation during the 2016 Presidential Election. He is now saying that he believes in the necessity of journalism in our country.

“Journalism plays a critical role in our democracy. When news is deeply-reported and well-sourced, it gives people information they can rely on. When it’s not, we lose an essential tool for making good decisions,” he said in an interview.

But the way news is covered, reported, written and edited has changed. 

One of the main foundations of journalism is to find things out, verify the facts and publish them in outlets, which can generally be relied upon to provide the best available version of the truth, minus a few articles about what a celebrity is wearing one day. But thousands of local newspapers have closed in recent years. Their disappearance has left millions of Americans without a vital source of local news and deprived communities of an institution essential for exposing wrongdoing and encouraging civic participation.

Additionally, there are many news channels where they sway to one side slightly or very strongly, so we’re not getting the entire story from sources we’re conditioned to trust. We’re getting a version of the news, not the truth.

What I fear is what journalism has already become in many cases. The New Yorker posted an article in early 2019 about the future of journalism, and they said that people see journalism as a “business”, instead of multiple platforms that has the goal of revealing the entire story. At the same time, technology has torn apart the two businesses – advertising and news. I understand that users have to pay subscription fees so that they can keep the website up, but I’m starting to think that news channels are more concerned about the money, instead of posting content that is reliable and not one-sided. 

A part of me is glad that Zuckerburg is doing something to help journalists report truths, but a part of me thinks that we won’t get the entire truth on Facebook News. But that is simply how journalism changed. Because we don’t have just the reports; we have all of social media to discover the truth.