The problem is not just that misinformation exists on social media, but that it is more popular than factual content. Laura Edelson, a Ph.D. candidate at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering, confirmed this problem in an appearance on the CBS program Sunday Morning. “Facebook is a user-interaction maximizing machine… that’s what Facebook is built to do… and user attention gets sold in the form of advertising.” As a result, anything that spurs interaction means profits. In an interview with Sunday Morning’s David Pogue, she affirmed that misinformation is six times more likely to be shared on social media than the facts.
You can watch Edelson’s interview here. Her comments begin at 3:30.
The interview is one of several recent media appearances by Edelson and Dr. Damon McCoy, her co-leader at the Cybersecurity for Democracy initiative. Since the summer, when Facebook dropped Edelson’s account and those of her collaborators from their site, she has been quoted in articles in The Washington Post, The Christian Science Monitor and The New Yorker, and on CNN and the BBC.