Dear Mark Zuckerberg, we hope this open letter finds you well.
We wouldn’t normally do this sort of thing you know, but we have to admit that some of your comments recently have made us feel a little uneasy.
Reports have cropped up all over the media that Facebook as an organisation is now ready to start to ‘tackle fake news,’ and therefore we decided that this may be an ideal opportunity to point a few things out and clear a few things up.
We understand why you cannot give concrete details about how you intend to clamp down on media outlets that publish news stories that are not 100% genuine, but we have to ask if you feel that it is fair to penalise websites who publish spoof or satirical content purely for entertainment reasons.
Southend News Network doesn’t operate as one of these clickbaity ‘You won’t believe how much of Kim Kardashian’s left knocker fell out of her dress’ kind of sites, but we cannot help but feel that you are lumping us in with these outlets.
If you intend to give Facebook users more power to report fake content, all you are going to do is create situations where ‘Offended of Leigh On Sea’ can gather all of their chummies at the Organic Yoga Society and organise a mass complaining session because we had the audacity to speak negatively of the almighty quinoa.
One thing that you may want to consider is that the world in 2016 is a messed-up place in a number of ways, and for many people carefully-constructed fake news is actually preferable to some of the utter garbage that is churned out by the mainstream news websites.
Only yesterday a certain ‘paper’ was reporting that Jeremy Corbyn was spotted doing some sort of jolly dance towards the Cenotaph War Memorial in London.
Are you going to penalise them for twisting the truth into the realm of fake news? Of course you’re not! How much does their click traffic directly and indirectly generate every day in advertising revenue for you guys?
Another well-known news outlet likes to report on news in a manner that tries to make us all want to throw the nearest dark-skinned person out of a fourth-floor window. Would you dare classify this as fake, seeing that their main webpage is one of the most popular news websites on the planet?
We’re not saying that ‘fake news’ should be thrust upon everyone’s news feeds on Facebook, we are just saying that the media is so biased in one way or another that your ‘fake news’ label could lead to the only remaining publication on Facebook being Morris Dancing Monthly!
What we are saying is that any decision that you make has to take into account that for every user who hates fake news websites, there is someone else who is so disillusioned with the whole stinking mess that they use these as an escape and a bit of a giggle.
After all, to use our example as an err… example, we just churn the stuff out – we do not force people to read it and we certainly cannot be held responsible if anyone thinks that it is real! Twenty seconds spent reading one of our stories should set alarm bells ringing in most people’s heads anyway.
We hope one day to catch up with the big players in the market like The Daily Mash, Newsthump, Waterford Whispers, The Suffolk Gazette, The Rochdale Herald and so on, but we do feel slightly uneasy about your rhetoric.
We are lucky enough to now be in a position to develop our content distribution strategy away from Facebook should the worst happen, but at the same time we have to admit that it would be a monumental pain in the arse!
Thanks for your time Mr Zuckerberg. We know that you read every Facebook post personally after all as you care so much about your business 🙂
Yours sincerely, Chief Reporter, Southend News Network