The Menlo Roundtable

American Truth: How the Facebook Algorithm Heightens Political Partisanship and Misinformation

In this time of hotly contested elections, a global pandemic, and an ever-changing political climate, social media has become a driving force for partisanship in America as well as a vessel for the spread of misinformation. Under the current algorithm that Facebook uses to promote posts, misinformation, and clickbait run rampant, paving the way for a more misinformed and divided population of Americans online.

Those with vested interests in more time spent online argue that the platforms should not be held accountable for the content on their platform as it pertains to politics. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, for example, has sat before Congress numerous times on the subject of big tech’s influence on information, arguing that they are not the policing system but rather a platform, and therefore they are not accountable for the content that is posted. Regulation of social media companies has been heavily debated by legislators, politicians, and tech executives, and includes issues of free speech, the Communications Decency Act, and the potential damage of heavy partisanship.

While opponents may claim that social media companies such as Facebook should not have stricter content policies, these platforms with engagement-driven algorithms not only exploit and deepen our partisan divide but introduce misinformation and conspiracy theories to the public. Companies like Facebook should be held responsible for what is put on their platform, and more stringent rules about posting misinformation should be imposed.

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