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Fake News, Trump and the Pressure on Facebook: QuickTake Q&A

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Facebook to Tackle Fake News

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Fake news is big news these days. There’s an emotional debate over the explosion of information on the internet -- and on social media sites in particular -- that’s provably false or intentionally misleading. President Donald Trump, fighting back against allegations that fake news helped him win election, now wields the term against coverage he doesn’t like. As content of dubious authenticity swirls on platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Google, many in the media worry consumers may lose trust in stories that are actually true. Maybe most uncomfortable are the social media companies, Facebook especially. They make millions in ad revenue by distributing information, but the last thing they want are the responsibilities that come with being a publisher, like making sure that stories are accurate.

Some Hillary Clinton supporters said a flood of fake items may have helped sway the results of the November 2016 election in Trump’s favor. They weren’t alone. The "impresario of a Facebook fake-news empire," Paul Horner, told the Washington Post, "I think Trump is in the White House because of me." BuzzFeed found that of the 20 fake election stories that were most shared, commented-on and reacted-to on Facebook, 17 were pro-Trump or anti-Clinton. Trump has sought to co-opt the term, applying it to stories that are unflattering, anonymously sourced or incorrect.