Facebook, CNN and Fake News

So, Facebook is attempting to crack down on so-called fake news.

I’m not sure how this is possible. Even reputable sources make mistakes and don’t always correct them. In fact, most fact-checking sites don’t allow peer-review (which boggles the mind since peer-review is one of the best ways to correct mistakes). Although Facebook’s effort may be well intentioned, I’m concerned that it might backfire and actually reinforce false information.

I’ll give you a real life example. Last week, CNN’s Chris Cuomo falsely reported on live TV that Hillary Clinton’s campaign wasn’t given debate questions in advance on the grounds that town hall debates aren’t debates.

“Hillary Clinton never got debate questions from Donna Brazile. They were for a town hall.”

Wrong. Town halls are simply a debate format. As evidence, I point to the official Commission on Presidential Debates which specifically lists the second presidential debate as a debate even though it used a town hall format:

“The second presidential debate will take the form of a town meeting”

CNN’s own coverage referred to town hall debates as a debate:

“CNN commentators and guest analysts offer their take on Sunday night’s second presidential candidate debate.”

And not just CNN, just about every news organization reported the leaked debate questions as debate questions, such as Politico:

“hacked emails published Monday by WikiLeaks appeared to reveal Brazile, during her time as a CNN commentator, giving advance notice to Clinton’s camp about a debate question”

The Washington Post:

“Donna Brazile is not apologizing for leaking CNN debate questions and topics to the Hillary Clinton campaign during the Democratic primary.”

The Chicago Tribune:

“CNN has cut ties with commentator and interim Democratic National Committee chair Donna Brazile after WikiLeaks revealed that Brazile provided more primary debate questions to Hillary Clinton’s campaign.”

I attempted to contact CNN about this mistake and they have yet to correct it, let alone acknowledge it.

The reason why this is so important (aside from the fact that it’s always important to get facts right) is that Libertarian Presidential candidate Gary Johnson wasn’t allowed in the town hall debate because the debate rules state that you must be polling at 15% in order to get into the debates. Well, if town halls aren’t debates, then the 15% rule shouldn’t have applied.

So, if someone shares an article about this on Facebook – perhaps this very one – pointing out CNN’s mistake, will Facebook correctly identify that this article is correct and that CNN is wrong? If not, Facebook is just perpetuating false information.

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