Facebook’s attempts to fight fake news seem to be working. (Twitter’s? Not so much.)

The growing stream of reporting on and data about fake news, misinformation, partisan content, and news literacy is hard to keep up with. This weekly roundup offers the highlights of what you might have missed.

“The overall magnitude of the misinformation problem may have declined.” It’s fun to hate on Facebook, but credit where credit’s due: The platform’s attempts to get fake news and misinformation out of people’s feeds seem to be working, according to a new working paper from NYU’s Hunt Allcott and Stanford’s Matthew Gentzkow and Chuan Yu. Looking at the spread of stories from 570 fake news sites (the list, here, includes sites that publish 100 percent fake news and sites that publish some pure fake news along with other highly partisan/misleading stories), and using BuzzSumo to track monthly interactions (shares/​comments/​reactions/​likes/​tweets), they find that “the overall magnitude of the misinformation problem may have declined, at

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Public or closed? How much activity really exists? See how other news organizations’ Facebook Groups are faring

When Facebook announced its pivot to Groups in the algorithm, publishers obediently pivoted as well. Some were already there — nurturing communities around a common thread, an event, or a locality, or gathering subscribers/fans in one centralized place. Some, honestly, seem plain thirsty for the eyeballs heading to their site content. That’d been part of Facebook’s olive branch (bait carrot?) to the news industry, though Campbell Brown’s recent comments drove that stake into the heart of the traffic promise that the Page → Group algorithm preference had already wedged in. But hey, maybe these groups could be a new opportunity for news organizations to circle up with those meaningful interactions. “I do worry this news is going to make ‘pivot to groups’ the new ‘pivot to video,’” one engagement editor at a U.S. publisher told us when we reached out to dozens of audience development and social media Continue reading "Public or closed? How much activity really exists? See how other news organizations’ Facebook Groups are faring"

With liberal and conservative outlets fighting, Facebook’s fact-checking program shows more cracks

So: ThinkProgress’s headline is undoubtedly clickbait-y, and that’s fine and not surprising because #Internet, and that the conservative Weekly Standard fact-checked the story was also not surprising. In this case, however, things got more complicated: The Weekly Standard is also one of Facebook’s fact-checking partners (the only one with an explicit political bent) — and, because it has the power to do this, also marked ThinkProgress’s Kavanaugh story “false” on Facebook, which means it gets totally demoted in people’s feeds. (Not that people are seeing much news in their feeds anyway.) Facebook’s other fact-checking partners are the Associated Press, PolitiFact, Snopes, and Factcheck.org. The Weekly Standard is the only one that explicitly associates itself with a political stance. When it uses its Facebook-given power to demote a liberal outlet, that feels troublesome. Except that I think The Weekly Standard is correct in this case, at least that ThinkProgress’s Continue reading "With liberal and conservative outlets fighting, Facebook’s fact-checking program shows more cracks"

From “uncool uncle” to “fun” “best friend”: Why people are turning from Facebook to…other Facebook-owned things for news

Multiple surveys bear this out, and it probably matches your own experience as well: Facebook is no longer growing as a platform for news. In the U.S., for instance, young people’s use of Facebook for news fell by 20 percentage points between 2017 and 2018. And Pew reported this week that the percentage of U.S. adults who ever get news from social media — or from Facebook specifically — was just about flat between last year and this year. It’s not that people are using their devices less; rather, they’re increasingly getting news from messaging apps, as reiterated in a report released Tuesday by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. The report, conducted by Kantar Media, looks at the social media habits of users in the U.S., U.K., Brazil, and Germany; the entire sample was made up of people who said Continue reading "From “uncool uncle” to “fun” “best friend”: Why people are turning from Facebook to…other Facebook-owned things for news"

Americans expect to get their news from social media, but they don’t expect it to be accurate

Lots of news on social media? Yep. Lots of accurate news on social media? Nope: That’s the mindset of the typical U.S. news consumer in 2018, according to a new Pew Research Center report on news use on social media platforms. Around two-thirds of U.S. adults say they get news from social media. (That figure is just about flat compared with 2017.) But 57 percent say they expect the news on social media to be “largely inaccurate.” (Pew interviewed 4,581 U.S. adults.) Convenience (cited by 21 percent of respondents), interacting with other people, speed, and timeliness are the top reasons that news consumers like getting the news from social media. The top-cited reason to dislike news from social: Inaccuracy. Silver lining? More respondents said accessing news on social media has helped them (36 percent) than that it has confused them (15 percent). But there
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Are you sure that promoted article is still political content, Facebook?

It happened again: A news organization tried to pay Facebook to promote its journalism — which included reporting on politics — and Facebook said no, declaring it “political content” the news organization wasn’t authorized to push. The piece in question? “Generation activist: Young people choose protest over traditional politics.”

O See, Can You Say

Between the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings on Capitol Hill and an anonymous op-ed from within the Trump White House, a wave of rule-bending and -breaking has crashed on Washington. This week, we explore how political decorum and popular dissent have evolved since the early days of our republic — and how the legal protections for those core freedoms could transform our future.
  1. Brooke and Bob on how best to cover the anonymous op/ed written by a "senior official in the Trump administration." Listen.
  2. Geoffrey Stone, professor of law at University of Chicago, on our evolving — and occasionally faulty — interpretations of the first amendment. And, Laura Weinrib, professor of law at University of Chicago, on how early-20th century labor struggles gave birth to our modern ideas about freedom of speech. Listen.

  3. Tim Wu [@superwuster], professor of law at Columbia University, on how the first amendment Continue reading "O See, Can You Say"