The Factory Times is the school newspaper for SUNY Poly.

Facebook and Politics

Facebook and Politics

It seems as if every time you log onto Facebook, or any social media, one of the first things you’ll see is either an article regarding Trump’s Presidency or an op-ed on “why you shouldn’t follow Trump’s administration.” Like many, I too am guilty of posting such things to social media. The question is, why? I may not be able to answer this question, but I do know that many are sick of the continuation of this recent trend. In fact, one of these people is Facebook’s very own Mark Zuckerberg.

Zuckerberg’s involvement with the 2016 Election was significant, yet unintentional. It was stated, by Facebook, that $100,000 in political ads were sold during the 2016 election to buyers that were later found to be linked to fake accounts. Some speculated that these belonged to the Russian government. However, this has yet to be confirmed. While the details of this case remain private, it’s not a shock that extreme propaganda and bias played a major role in the outcome of the election, primarily due to Facebook. It’s important to note that this propaganda was displayed by both political parties, however, negativity was mainly used to encourage voters to vote for Donald Trump opposed to Clinton. Trump won the 2016 election despite the false propaganda on both sides, and hate speech that continues to make its rounds on social media.

Along with the rise of such propaganda is the concept of fake news, which is exactly what it sounds like. With the popular internet culture of not recognizing reputable sources, fake news has been able to weasel its way into the sea of articles we find on our Facebook timelines, Twitter feeds, and even Instagram dashboards. Fake news isn’t exactly a new idea, it’s been used in the past to influence people into believing ideas or concepts. In particular, these principles are usually only believed for a short amount of time, as eventually, most people do research to get a second opinion. However, the latter is becoming rarer in today’s political and social climate. The sole purpose of printing fake news is to mislead people into believing something to be true, likely something that is considered to be mind-blowing or interesting. Individuals need to research the things they see online, otherwise, we have an article posted on Facebook stating that the Pope endorsed Donald Trump making national headlines.

These fake news stories aren’t just harmful for spreading misleading or incorrect information, but they contribute to the popularization of news stories that target groups of people, use words that are perceived as harmful and undermine true and honest news sources. Additionally, Trump has taken the concept of fake news and has adopted it as a part of his Presidency, which has proven to be harmful for many reasons thus far. One of these being that nearly anything that’s being said about him that doesn’t play out in his favor is deemed fake news and many individuals go along with it because of his authority status. What does this have to do with Facebook? To start, the beginning of the fake news phenomenon was largely spread through Facebook and continues to show this trend. Additionally, it has encouraged other outlets of social media into posting about the political climate in almost the same manner.

Zuckerberg has come out and stated that he hopes for Facebook to eliminate their status as a political news source, and for it to return to its origins. While some are not fond of this decision, if carried out, it will hopefully restore official news networks credibility as reputable news sources and leave the era of fake news behind.

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