Are you outraged by some of the stories about the presidential candidates of 2016 and the dastardly deeds they've done? Well, guess what - it you find such stories on a Web site you'd never heard of before via Facebook, they're not true. Well, 99.9 percent of them.
Fake news sites (it's the news that's fake, not the sites) have been promoting their stories (appropriate word for them) on Facebook (founded in 2004) for months (and this is the only sentence in this blog entry interrupted by parenthetical asides that you'll have to read). It seems that only a couple of weeks ago, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg denied that any such sites were having their links promoted on the social media site. Now he says that Facebook knows about it and has been working on the problem. Gee, what could have made him change his tune? Maybe it was because he was getting a lot of flak from Hillary Clinton supporters, who figure prominently on Facebook and thought the fake stories about Hillary swung the presidential election to Donald Trump.
While this sounds like Hillary supporters looking for yet another scapegoat to blame for their candidate's loss, this is actually serious. A lot of unreliable news sites have been proliferating all over the place, offering up "news" stories that sound too outrageous to be true, and probably are. I don't doubt that there were stories about Hillary Clinton that weren't true, but I'm sure that there were several Trump stories that were balderdash as well, and if people voted one way or another based on any of them, that's a problem.
It's relatively easy to spot a fake news site. If it has an obscure name or anything other than a dot-com domain, you shouldn't trust it. Take special care and beware of any sites that look like legitimate sites from the U.S. broadcast network news departments or CNN, MSNBC and the like. If it says ".com.co" at the end of the URL, it's a fraudulent version of the real thing. If it's foxnews.com.co, though, it's probably more accurate than the actual Fox News site.
Ha ha! I am only kidding about Fox, of course, but this "fake news" business is still a serious problem that demands a serious answer. Mark Zuckerberg doesn't see a social-connection site like his as a traditional media outlet. But he'd better start treating it like one, since a majority of Americans get at least some of their news, if not all of it, from the links they see on social media. If there are sites out there willing to take advantage of people's unfamiliarity with where real news comes from, then Zuckerberg ought to take his role as a gatekeeper much more seriously than he already has.
Me, I think I'll curtail my search for news and commentary on the Web through Facebook or stop altogether. After all, as noted, Facebook isn't supposed to be a site to get news from. It's a site you use to communicate with and make friends and also to establish connections with Broadway actresses.
I ain't naming names. ;-)
And if you've come here via Facebook, let me say again that I never claimed that this blog is supposed to be a legitimate news source.