Facebook has been in a bit of a rut lately with fake news. But it’s about to get a whole lot worse and the social media site risks losing more users in addition to the 2.8 million who abandoned the platform altogether last year.
On Monday at Recode’s Code Media conference in Huntington Beach, Calif., Facebook executives defended the changes they were making to the social media platform that buries political news and media in favor of updates from friends and family.
One of the ways in which Facebook plans to change the way users engage news and political content is establishing a news section to its watch tab, which is now currently reserved for original videos. Campbell Brown, the former NBC anchor turned head of news for Facebook, believes the news section will be a popular destination for “big, breaking news moments.”
However, Brown doesn’t express a whole lot of confidence in this new venture.
“We’re gonna have to experiment and test and we have to be way more transparent with publishers going in that this may not work out,” Brown said. “Jump in with us if you’re ready for a big experiment that might not work.”
Not exactly the glimmer of hope publishers using Facebook need right now.
In addition to news and political content showing up in its own tab away from the default news feed, the social media platform is still allowing users and developers to rate publishers on their level of trustworthiness.
Adam Mosseri, Facebook’s product executive who runs the news feed, insists that “this is not a popularity contest. We’re looking for trust by a wide range of people.”
While community ratings may be fair to stamp out known peddlers of intentionally false stories and information, conservative publications might ultimately suffer the most.
It was barely two years ago when it was reported that Facebook workers suppressed conservative news even when they were organically trending on the social media site. Who is to say that that won’t happen again for the company?
On top of that, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg might be foolishly weighing a run for president in 2020, and the main obstacle in his way is none other than President Trump, who has yet to announce he’s running for re-election. But let’s be real, folks, if Trump sees a window of opportunity to troll Zuckerberg while cruising to a 2020 victory, he’ll do it. Yet, this doesn’t mean that Zuckerberg won’t leverage his position at Facebook to suppress positive stories about President Trump or Republicans on his website.
It should be noted that social media sites like Facebook are private enterprises and can promote or suppress whatever content they want. However, if they want to sustain their profit margins and continue to flourish as a highly influential company and medium of content, they have to understand that being an arbiter of news and political content will drive users away regardless. They’re only creating a lose-lose scenario for themselves.
But it’s not all bad. At least they’re still turning a profit, unlike Twitter, which only now posted its first profit ever since going public in 2013.
Siraj Hashmi is a commentary video editor and writer for the Washington Examiner.