Facebook doesn’t want to eradicate fake news. If it did they’d kick out InfoWars

Social networks giving sick conspiracy theorists a platform to spread hate.

Facebook doesn't care about fake news. If it did they'd kick out InfoWars

Facebook would like you to believe that it’s serious about ridding its platform of fake news. So how come InfoWars, one of the most notorious outlets of sick conspiracy theories, is allowed to maintain a page on the social network?

CNN‘s Oliver Darcy asked the question at an event organised by Facebook with the seeming intention to convince the public that it was serious about tackling the problem of fake news and misinformation.

At least if that was its intention, Facebook failed.

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After a short presentation showcasing Facebook’s efforts to fight misinformation, John Hegeman, the head of Facebook’s News Feed, and Sara Su, a Facebook product specialist for News Feed, took questions from reporters.

When asked by this reporter how the company could claim it was serious about tackling the problem of misinformation online while simultaneously allowing InfoWars to maintain a page with nearly one million followers on its website, Hegeman said that the company does not “take down false news.”

“I guess just for being false that doesn’t violate the community standards,” Hegeman said, explaining that InfoWars has “not violated something that would result in them being taken down.”

Hegeman added, “I think part of the fundamental thing here is that we created Facebook to be a place where different people can have a voice. And different publishers have very different points of view.”

Hmm. I wouldn’t really describe InfoWars as “a different point of view”.

Infowars facebook

It’s an outlet that has continually peddled cruel conspiracy theories, including the sick notion that the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school was a hoax. Or that the student survivors of the Parkland Florida shooting were actors hired to pretend to be fake victims of a fake tragedy. The list goes on…

If you’re going to clean up your social network of fake news, what more obvious place to start?

Reporter Oliver Darcy, who may find himself not invited back to future Facebook media events, asked the site for a deeper explanation of its policies after the event, and was given the following statement by spokeswoman Lauren Svensson:

“We work hard to find the right balance between encouraging free expression and promoting a safe and authentic community, and we believe that down-ranking inauthentic content strikes that balance. In other words, we allow people to post it as a form of expression, but we’re not going to show it at the top of News Feed.”

“That said: while sharing fake news doesn’t violate our Community Standards set of policies, we do have strategies in place to deal with actors who repeatedly share false news. If content from a Page or domain is repeatedly given a ‘false’ rating from our third-party fact-checkers … we remove their monetization and advertising privileges to cut off financial incentives, and dramatically reduce the distribution of all of their Page-level or domain-level content on Facebook.”

In short, Facebook isn’t removing fake news from its network. It’s just trying to make it less visible to those who don’t want to read it.

InfoWars has nearly one million followers on Facebook.

Oh, and this isn’t just a Facebook problem. YouTube is just as bad, giving Alex Jones and InfoWars a platform to beam their bonkers conspiracy theory videos and hate-filled diatribes into the eyeballs of millions of people.

In the past, major brands have discovered that, unknown to the companies, YouTube had been playing their ads on the InfoWars and Alex Jones channels.

Graham Cluley is an award-winning keynote speaker who has given presentations around the world about cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. A veteran of the computer security industry since the early 1990s, he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows, makes regular media appearances, and is the co-host of the popular "Smashing Security" podcast. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

6 comments on “Facebook doesn’t want to eradicate fake news. If it did they’d kick out InfoWars”

  1. EatTheLeft

    Maybe the fascist left should shut down your website next. I love how you faggots love silencing people you don’t agree with. Trump is going to get re-elected in 2020, so get ready.

    1. Graham CluleyGraham Cluley · in reply to EatTheLeft

      I don't know what country you live in (although I think I might be able to guess), but my belief is that generally freedom of speech doesn't give you the right to say anything you like wherever you like.

      I shouldn't be allowed to shout out "Fire!" in a crowded cinema. I shouldn't be allowed to daub offensive language on the fence in the children's playground. I seriously considered refusing your comment on *my* website because of the offensive language you chose to use.

      Plenty of messageboards and online forums have rules to moderate the behaviour of members. Many tell folks to keep it civil, or simply to be kind to each other.

      Facebook owns Facebook, its users don't. Facebook is well within its rights to set rules for acceptable behaviour and chuck out people who incite the persecution of, say, the parents of young children who have been shot dead by a lunatic.

      That's not curtailing your freedom of speech. That's simply saying "You can't say that here, clear off to your own grotty corner of the internet if you want to say things like that."

      1. Isma'il · in reply to Graham Cluley

        Good on you, Graham, for putting this bully in his place. People need to stand up to these sort of folks. The First Amendment allows freedom of speech, but does not entitle one to say whatever they want whenever they want, as you correctly explained in your, "'Fire!' in a crowded theatre," analogy. I work in the telco industry and management doesn't allow upset customers to curse at employees just because they're mad, especially if there are other customers present.

  2. BaliRob

    Graham – you showed great courage exposing the continuous falsehoods allowed and perpetuated
    on FB. Now let's highlight the obscene and cruel videos allowed to remain on view notwithstanding
    hundreds of complaints admitted to be received.

    And ANYONE suggesting that your site should be shutdown does not deserve to share in decent

  3. TurbopropTed


    Best to stick with the security stuff and stay out of the political area, or the comment section will be filled with the likes of comments above. It will just keep getting nastier and it never leads to a thoughtful discussion! People just want to vent.

  4. Jonathon

    Perhaps if you weren't so fluoridated and brainwashed you might realize that those things actually are murderous false flag events actioned by government. They are correct in their reporting. It's almost ridiculous to think anything to the contrary with how obvious these government contrived attacks have become.

    I also love how you're so self righteous that you think your view points on reality are so correct that the largest (and most terrible) platform on the internet should only allow content you so foolishly believe to be true and to reject anything else. Because free-thinking adults can't think and make their own minds up for themselves, right?

    None of this was meant to offend you personally. I do not intend that at all. I just don't know how else to speak this truth otherwise.

    Buy some cannabis off the dark net (or legally if you're lucky enough) and let it help expand your consciousness a bit. It'll help you see how government wants to kill us and it's OUR (you and me) job to fight them.

    Love and light.

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