A recent investigation has revealed that Facebook is still earning money on the back of hoax content despite its promise to crack down on fake news.
The Press Association revealed that dodgy adverts and posts about celebrities such as Professor Stephen Hawking, Lord Sugar and the Queen persist – earning millions for the social media platform.
One advert about Lord Sugar used a webpage pretending to be The Sun to make money from gullible readers.
Similar scams on Facebook’s pages solicit clicks by claiming the death of the Queen, Professor Stephen Hawking and actor, Hugh Laurie.
A British publication for the journalism industry has launched a campaign to expose the duopoly of Facebook and Google, and stop the two destroying the UK journalism industry.
Press Gazette, a publication that has focused on journalism issues for over 50 years is seeking a fairer deal between news publishers and the internet giants that will better reward the creators of the content that the two platforms rely on.
“We want Google and Facebook to become more responsible digital citizens, acting in a way that allows diverse digital news sources rather than gorging themselves on all the available digital advertising in a way which will lead smaller players to starve,” said editor, Dominic Ponsford, who questioned why the two internet giants receive special treatment over British news publishers.
“Imagine if two news publishers dominated digital media in the way that Facebook and Google do,” he said. “The Government would not allow such a duopoly to stand. Campaigners would call for them to be broken up in the name of media plurality.
“Yet by 2020 Google and Facebook are expected to take 71 per cent of all the money spent in the UK on digital advertising, according to a report by analysts OC&C.”
The Press Gazette has launched a petition for people to register their concern.
Ponsford said that while news publishers are using digital channels more effectively than ever to reach their audiences, the advertising share they enjoy is continually being eroded by Facebook and Google.
“The effect of this can already be seen and is devastating for both the news industry and for society in general,” he said. “To add insult to injury, Google and Facebook are masters at avoiding paying tax in the UK on their vast profits.
“Journalism, which is broadly a social good, is being replaced by entities which have little responsibility and are complicit in creating a good deal of harm by distributing misleading and extremist content.”
Facebook says advice on how to spot fake news will solve the problem of its users being fooled by the phenomenon.
The social media giant will target users with an advertising campaign over several days linking to an article in its help section.
But experts remain doubtful of the campaign’s impact, especially as it will only be promoted through a short-term advert.
Digital journalism lecturer at City University, Tom Felle said: “Until Facebook stops rewarding the architects of fake news with huge traffic, this problem will just get worse.”
BBC’s technology correspondent, Rory Cellan-Jones agreed.
“It will only be there for three days and one has to suspect that it will be read in the main by people who are already suitably sceptical about hoaxes and propaganda,” he said. “I’m not convinced that this will be seen as a game changer in the battle to make Facebook a place you go to find the truth, rather than wallow in your friends’ prejudices.”
This May 3 let’s remind people to pause and contemplate the value that a free press adds to modern society.
It’s a good time to evaluate press freedom around the world, defend journalists and publications from attacks on their independence, and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives while working to inform the world.
This year UNESCO, the Government of Indonesia, and the Press Council of Indonesia will co-organize the World Press Freedom Day’s main event and the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize Ceremony in Jakarta, Indonesia, from 1-4 May 2017.