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The outcome of the presidential election in the US has focused media and public attention on the increasingly influential role that social media platforms may be playing in how voters obtain news and information. Of particular concern has been the potential role that the circulation of fabricated news stories may have played in the election outcome. Facebook, in particular, has come under fire for being a venue for the widespread circulation of ‘fake news’.
If the volume of media coverage is any indication, this issue of the circulation of false news stories on platforms such as Facebook appears to have galvanised public attention to the broader issue of the position and operation of social media platforms in the production, dissemination, and consumption of news and information in a way that previous controversies involving the intersection of social media and news did not, such as Facebook’s ethically dubious emotional contagion research; the construction of Twitter’s trending topics list; and accusations that Facebook was suppressing the spread of conservative news.
The US election has brought the debate about whether social media firms such as Facebook are really media players, not technology platforms, into sharp relief, as PHILIP M. NAPOLI and ROBYN CAPLAN discuss.
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