People have criticized the site for not doing enough to distinguish between fake and real news during the presidential campaign. False news stories generated more engagement than stories from real news outlets during the home stretch of the election, according to a BuzzFeed analysis.
Asked whether fake news played a bigger role in the election than she had anticipated, Sandberg said she didn’t believe it had.
“There have been claims that it swayed the election,” she said on NBC’s “Today” show. “And we don’t think it swayed the election but we take that responsibility really seriously and we’re looking at things like working with third parties helping to label false news, doing the things we can do to make it clearer what’s a hoax on Facebook.”
Fake news stories that went viral during the election included claims that Pope Francis had endorsed Donald Trump, that Hillary Clinton has sold weapons to ISIS and that an FBI agent died by suicide in connection with the investigation into Clinton’s private email server. Americans are likely to believe fake news headlines 75 percent of the time, according to an Ipsos poll conducted for BuzzFeed after the election.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg made comments similar to Sandberg’s following the election, saying he did not believe fake news had influenced its outcome.
“Of all the content on Facebook, more than 99% of what people see is authentic,” he wrote in a statement. “Only a very small amount is fake news and hoaxes. The hoaxes that do exist are not limited to one partisan view, or even to politics. Overall, this makes it extremely unlikely hoaxes changed the outcome of this election in one direction or the other.”
Zuckerberg also outlined some of the steps the company would take to address fake news, which include improving mechanisms for reporting examples of it and improving the site’s ability to detect whether a story is real.