By now, many of us have heard about Facebook’s major “fake news” problem. In the past, the platform fiercely denied accountability for the content its users shared. The formula for what the company policed was fairly black and white: no nudity, no bullying, etc. Though several scandals, and one Donald Trump-presidency later, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg now admits: Fake news is a major problem for the company. And apparently Barack Obama reached out to Zuckerberg directly about the problem.
In a feature for The New York Times headlined, "Can Facebook Fix Its Own Worst Bug," Zuckerberg was hesitant to discuss his and Obama's conversation. Writer, Farhad Manjoo explained, “When I asked if he [Zuckerberg] had chatted with Obama about the former president’s critique of Facebook, Zuckerberg paused for several seconds, nearly to the point of awkwardness, before answering that he had.”
That’s right, the ex-POTUS reached out to the man himself about a problem that many of us had spotted long before the company acknowledged it. However, in the spirit of maintaining a partisan-minded business model, a spokesperson contacted The NYT and clarified Obama was one of many people who approached Zuckerberg with similar concerns.
Zuckerberg had to have seen it coming. As Mashable noted, Obama addressed the issue during a conference in Berlin earlier this year.
"In an age where there’s so much active misinformation and it's packaged very well and it looks the same when you see it on a Facebook page or you turn on your television, if everything seems to be the same and no distinctions are made, then we won’t know what to protect," he said.
"If we are not serious about facts and what’s true and what’s not, and particularly in an age of social media when so many people are getting their information in sound bites and off their phones," he continued, "if we can’t discriminate between serious arguments and propaganda, then we have problems."
The Times also noted that roughly two billion people use Facebook each month. Though 1.2 billion people use the platform daily. That’s an awful lot of people possibly being exposed to misinformation. Luckily the company has begun to take action.