Is Fake News a Security Risk?

Fake News and Security
So, is fake news a security concern? Lets have a look at a recent news item that is quite revealing.

Facebook held a news conference to explain what it is doing to remove fake news from its pages and therefore from our feeds. Oliver Darcy from CNN was waiting to ask a pointed question about one of the most prolific sources of conspiracy based fake news, InfoWars.

 

When asked by Darcy about how the company could claim it was serious about tackling the problem of misinformation online while simultaneously allowing InfoWars to maintain a page with nearly one million followers on its website, John Hegeman said that the company does not “take down false news.” 

“I guess just for being false that doesn’t violate the community standards,” Hegeman said, explaining that InfoWars has “not violated something that would result in them being taken down.”

Hegeman added, “I think part of the fundamental thing here is that we created Facebook to be a place where different people can have a voice. And different publishers have very different points of view.”

“We work hard to find the right balance between encouraging free expression and promoting a safe and authentic community, and we believe that down-ranking inauthentic content strikes that balance. In other words, we allow people to post it as a form of expression, but we’re not going to show it at the top of News Feed.”

“That said: while sharing fake news doesn’t violate our Community Standards set of policies, we do have strategies in place to deal with actors who repeatedly share false news. If content from a Page or domain is repeatedly given a ‘false’ rating from our third-party fact-checkers… we remove their monetisation and advertising privileges to cut off financial incentives, and dramatically reduce the distribution of all of their Page-level or domain-level content on Facebook.”

So, based on that conversation you have to wonder if the press conference about fake news was anything other than, well, fake news! Bad news

 

If Facebook don’t intend to take down fake news then they are encouraging it, they claim that they remove or reduce the ability of page owners to generate income on Facebook if they consider fake news peddlers.
How does this affect Security
The issues occur when those who actually believe the fake news start to share it. Often going viral fake news around security concerns on social media, applications and or websites can cause serious damage to the reputation of those targeted.

It’s one thing to allow and encourage free speech, but when it starts to affect legitimate business those at the centre of the problem need to be brought to book. InfoWars has in the past advertised its site and even some its fake news via YouTube advertising. When those adverts are shown in the middle of an item from a highly reputable company it has the effect of subliminally detracting form the reputation of these firms.

 

Some of the biggest brands in the U.S. had ads running on the YouTube channels for far-right website InfoWars and its founder, notorious conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, and they say they had no idea YouTube was allowing their advertising to appear there. – CNN 

 

And on the subject of Fake News, lets look at the person who coined the phrase:

 

President Trump refused a question from CNN’s Jim Acosta at a joint press conference Friday afternoon with UK Prime Minister Theresa May in Buckinghamshire. Earlier in the press conference, Trump attacked CNN after receiving a question from the NBC News reporter Hallie Jackson. Trump said NBC is “possibly worse than CNN.”

 

 

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