A report by the CBC reveals that Facebook advertisers are able to write their own headlines when sharing news stories, given many users the impression that the advertiser’s headline is part of the original piece. Facebook says it is adding “additional safeguards” to the advertising tool.
According to a report by the CBC, Facebook advertisers are allowed to edit the headlines of news articles that they promote on their feed. This new feature allows advertisers to misrepresent news for political or corporate benefit.
Jennifer Grygiel, an associate professor of communications at Syracuse University, argued that Facebook is accepting money in exchange for the ability to mislead the public. Grygiel fears that some will use this feature to make misleading political claims. “This is essentially, it would be a situation where Facebook is hosting and allowing and accepting monies for a misleading, essentially, political ad or a political weapon, at that point.”
Aleksander Essex, a professor of computer science at Western University, thinks that the new feature is ripe for abuse by those looking to spread misinformation. “Any time that you can present a story as being different than it is, there’s an opportunity for it to be abused,” he said. “What you see and what’s displayed to you online can potentially be changed in a number of ways. In this case, it sounds like Facebook is explicitly allowing it out of carelessness.”
Facebook commented on the feature to the CBC, stating: “We have a system that gives publishers control over how their links appear on Facebook. We’re working to put additional safeguards in place by the end of this year to make sure advertisers don’t misuse this tool.”
Last week, Breitbart News reported U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria argued that Facebook’s view on privacy is “so wrong.” Chhabria hit back against Facebook’s claims that violations of user privacy on their platform have not caused “tangible” harm to users.
Breitbart News also reported last week that Facebook censored content from pro-life activist group Live Action. Live Action President Lila Rose reported that Facebook sent an alert to thousands of Live Action’s followers, telling them that the organization’s content is “false.”
In possible retaliation against a letter from US Senators to Mark Zuckerberg, @Facebook just sent ANOTHER alert to thousands of our followers saying @LiveAction’s content is “false”—using the “fact check” by two abortionists. They also added a “violation” to our page.
— Lila Rose (@LilaGraceRose) September 11, 2019
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