Snowden: Stop Relying on Facebook for Your News

In the wake of one of the most tumultuous election cycles in recent memory, many people are criticizing social media outlets – namely Facebook – for not doing enough to weed out obviously fake news articles that could have potentially impacted people’s votes. This is a claim that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has been quick to dismiss, but many remain skeptical.

But one of the biggest newsmakers in the past several years, Edward Snowden, says fake news isn’t necessarily the issue here.

Speaking at Fusion’s Real Future Fair via a BeamBot from Russia, the former NSA employee turned whistleblower said the fact that fake news is available on Facebook isn’t so much of a problem, but the bigger issue is that Facebook is the only news source for many people.

“There seems to be no alternative to the larger services. Because of this network effect, because the first mover advantage. When you get a Google or a Facebook or Twitter in place, they never seem to leave,” Snowden said, pointing to a lack of competition as a cause for the problem.

It’s even more troublesome when you consider that the majority of people share and comment on stories shared on social media sites like Facebook without actually reading them. If people consumed news from multiple sources, he argued, it would be much easier to tell the fake from the real. In other words, stop relying on Facebook for your news.

“To have one company that has enough power to reshape the way we think, I don’t think I need to describe how dangerous that is,” he said.

Snowden’s answer? Making sure that one, singular platform doesn’t play such a dominant role in people’s lives. When people rely on one source, it’s easy for misinformation to spread (since there’s nothing to back it up against). Instead, Snowden proposed a “federated system” of sorts, or a network of many Facebooks all connected. That way, one outlying bit of information would easily be lost in a sea of truthful information that’s repeated over and over.

Facebook itself is addressing the controversy by announcing they plan to ban fake news outlets from their ad network, cutting off the revenue source for these sites that try to make money on their blog by peddling lies.

Snowden’s comments echoed those of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who said that it’s “extremely unlikely hoaxes changed the outcome of this election in one direction or the other.” Snowden did add though, that if false news on social media actually impacted this election, it’s “a very sad indictment of our democracy that our voters could be so easily misled” and “One company shouldn’t have the power to reshape the way we think.”

Looking for a bright spot in all of this? A recent study found that 33% of Facebook users want less news in their feeds. Perhaps some are starting to realize that relying on Facebook as a sole source of news isn’t the best idea.

And what does all of this mean for my fellow bloggers and reporters? We all need to be better. Whether you’re just starting a blog or you’re a reporter at a major news outlet, let’s all do our part to ensure we’re providing the most accurate information possible to our readers.



44 Comments on "Snowden: Stop Relying on Facebook for Your News"

  1. There is a typo in this article.
    “Facebook itself is addressing the controversy by announcing they plan to ban fake news outlets from their ad network, cutting off the revenue source for these sites.”
    It is actually GOOGLE that is announcing they plan to ban fake new outlets form their network.
    Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook is actually saying they are not taking any steps to do this.

  2. Go to jail

  3. 33% of Facebook users would prefer if the real world didn’t intrude into their lives is what I think the significance of that statistic is.

  4. For me I wont use Facebook for anything but posting pictures. Facebook for news_ nope

  5. I am part of the 1% who would like no feed at all on Facebook and just have the possibility to keep accessing my groups and chats.
    That is it. If anyone has any idea on how to get this done please let me know!

    “A recent study found that 33% of Facebook users want less news in their feeds. Perhaps some are starting to realize that relying on Facebook as a sole source of news isn’t the best idea.”

  6. shut up snowden

  7. I dont RELY on it for news. Nor should others! We ALL need to take them time, if we see something that piques our interest, it is up to us to not just take it as gospel! I do my own homework on the subject!

  8. I’m going to share this on Facebook

  9. A lot of lazy webmasters who call their work a job are about to panic! They took the click-bait too far in the last 2-3 years. YouTube clickbait need’s cleaned up too and Google’s AdWords customers will stop being part of a system that makes these lazy website owners wealthy.

  10. The real issue here is the centralization of internet companies into unimaginably huge corporate entities. Goole, Microsoft, and Facebook are our too-big-to-fail IT companies whose effect on our way of life is unmeasurable. Their role cannot be revoked because they can’t give way to anything new – they’re the apex predators that swallow up everything new and significant. They’re all also developing artificial intelligence, which puts our connected future firmly in their hands with regard to our survival and population or resource control further down the road. One possible solution, advised by the guy who created the world wide web protocol we’re all currently enjoying, Tim Berners-Lee, is to decentralize the internet by new technologies that put the access and modification permissions into the hands of the user, i.e. you’d have control over who gets what part of your personal information, instead of Facebook or Google. This artificial limbo state we’re currently in with “logging in” cannot stand for long, and Bitcoin wallet-type things, or possibly some very complex digital identification cards that automatically synchronize with settings on your primary device(s). There’s a digital culture war a’comin, and it will be fought against corporate dinosaurs.

  11. The thing is, Zuckenberg is likely both right and a completely ignorant at the same. Right that the hoaxes didn’t change the election and ignorant that his platform functions as the ultimate echo chamber and filter.

    People get to see only news their friends like too – and who is friends with people that aren’t sharing similar values to them? So you get a self-reinforcing feedback loop. Add to that the Facebook’s algorithms that “helpfully” feed you only with what you are most likely going to like to see (and thus interact with and see ads on or buy stuff from) and you have the ultimate filter bubble filled with content that reinforces your own views and represses the views you don’t like.

    So no, hoaxes most likely didn’t significantly impact the outcome of the election, but the existence of Facebook most certainly did.

  12. I seldom use Facebook, so this is all very strange to me. At first I thought “why the hell would someone use facebook to read the news”, then I realized most of my news probably comes from Reddit, and that’s even more chaotic and untrustworthy. We’re fed so much bull from all sides we trust Nothing. It’s all spin now, even the President-elect: a “show man” if nothing else. Blaming facebook as the proxy-culprit for hosting fake click-bait is a huge stretch. Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press are getting convoluted into an excuse to commit fraud to their readers and customers.

  13. Snowden is a loser, who thinks the rest of the world is smart enough to make a good decision, if he actually did work at the CIA, and as the film depicted him as monitored people through their webcams, cellphones, or social media, he should have seen just how dumb the people truly are to begin with. I think he truly had an awesome job and threw it all away because he has a mental disorder, rot away in russia you are a shame.

    • Oh Golly of Ra Ra | November 20, 2016 at 5:15 pm | Reply

      What a low down dirty thing to say. Lucky for us there are still people like Snowden who are prepared to forego the sweet job and life of comfortable ignorance to provide the actual documentary evidence we the people need to prosecute these embedded criminals and their myriad webs of crimes or at least realise the truth of our boiling frogs predicament by knowing some of the depths to which our oppressors do go to ensnare us in their Deceptacon Nightmare, our virtual Panopticon, we, ghosts of the civil dead.

  14. The real issue,of course, is that people don’t want to read multiple news sources and form an informed opinion. They just want their existing opinions reinforced. This: “one outlying bit of information would easily be lost in a sea of truthful information that’s repeated over and over” will never happen. The solution is an educated society that wants to engage. But, of course, that is the polar opposite of what elected officials want.

  15. Anyone who relys on one source of news/education is foolish to begin with. I recommend a few online news sources including a couple from abroad. It’s always interesting to see how the US is viewed from outside the country.

  16. Amen to that postmodern society, and bugger you cyborg fecks!

  17. That last two paragraphs are silly to me. I don’t think that statistic is an indicator that Facebook users don’t want to rely on Facebook as their sole source of news, but rather that the hard core Facebook/social media users don’t really care about real world issues or news.

  18. Let’s be honest, the problem isn’t Facebook. Rather it’s the intelligence of their customers. I’ve been watching for the last 50 years as the least bright of have been breeding like rabbits. We are a STUPID NATION. Idiocracy was a propphecy.

  19. We get our news from wherever the fuck we want.

  20. I use reddit

  21. Great article – What’s funny is the stuff I see on the news feed. All the moronic people eat it and share the shit out of it.

  22. funny how the big media outlets are really touchy about anyone else manipulating the public with skewed news and editorial-they are the creators of this kind of social manipulation and they are petrified that social media will take away their strangle hold on what the public is ‘directed” to think honestly it shows the Millennials that far left or far right are always trying to sway you and they need to be informed from many sources to find the truth-with the freedom of information comes the mass flood of “misinformation” yet that is far better than the censored herding of the lemmings that has been going on since journalistic integrity was completely replaced by the 1% owned press

  23. Arguably this is an issue for every industry. The tendency for Centralization and the power that comes with it deteriorates autonomy and access to alternatives.
    One would think that hoaxes or fake news would sharpen peoples intellect, unfortunately it seems to do the opposite.
    Maybe we should discourage the use of 3 and 4 syllable words in headlines too…

  24. I deleted my facebook in 2015 because I couldn’t stand the idiocy that I had to see every day. It made me ashamed and really just depressed about how misinformed and gullible everyone is. When the bombings in Paris happened, I started seeing posts in my news feed about how the #BLM movement had something to do with it. I hated that people were doing the French flag watermark on their profile photos and having no idea why.. and that was it. I deleted my facebook that very day. My life has been much better since.

  25. Fake news outlets are defined as any considered to be alt right. They wont ban any liberal news outlets.

    When will people realize that both FB and Google are nothing more than echo chambers for liberal snowflakes.

  26. Be careful government workers get jealous of facebook

  27. Face book is skynet it control everything and world endvis near??

  28. I don’t see how Zuckerberg can monitor all the news posts on fb, and expecting him to week out fake ones is risky as it can end up as (maybe unintentional) censorship. There is already too much of that in the media. FB users have to take responsibility for checking on new stories themselves (not hard to do) and taking a more skeptical (not cynical, which is closed mindedness) attitude to fb news. Time to grow up and be thinking people.

  29. You mean ban news that they don’t agree with? Global censorship? Call it for what it is…they want to control what you read.

  30. Facebook needs to be shut down It has become a platform for billeting. Going off facebook Mark Zuckerburg getting rich from all the negativity and false reports I don’t believe anything on face book.To me he is doing the same thing as Hitler

  31. Same problem with main stream media. It is a democratic echo chamber of lies.

  32. There are reputable news outlets online and they are just as easy to access as Facebook (and others). You can take massive steps to try weed out fake reports but you can’t choose for the readers. As for voting, most people vote emotionally.Maybe off subject but if you had to call a poll for top 100 best songs ever, there’d be classics but there’d be 2 or 3 in the top 10 that are new because they’re in the memory banks. Comments sections in social media do play a part too, people are given carte blanche to type away without seeing or feeling any consequence to a point (even as I am doing now). Social media is for ‘blogging’ and connecting but I feel keep the mainstream press articles off limits to bloggers and commentators. That’s just my view.

  33. We share things from other sources like utube. Facebook is just a bunch of all other sources of what people view and share and voice their opinion on it. Its as simple as that Right or wrong , Eh?

  34. It’s true but it’s a little like telling some one to eat more vegetables. They know it’s good but not many do. Besides Facebook for most

  35. This assumes people want to actively participate in determining the truth of a story. I fear many just want their existing beliefs confirmed.


  37. I am so glad that action is being taken on this important issue. I know many that used Facebook as a platform for disseminating false and mostly bigoted, racist news. Thank you for doing this.

  38. Facebook is nothing but a looking glass .. lookie lookie you shall see just what people want you to see

    misrepresent themselves tell lies live a lie
    and we shutter to think that omy in our election process they lied .. really ..

  39. So we should rely on Snowden or Wikki leaks? All of the media outlets in this world have gotten out of control. Individuals should rely on their own value and beliefs, however some people have beliefs that are produce harmful outcomes those are the ones that believe the craziness they see in the social media world.

  40. It is not ideal for people to get their news from Facebook. However, as every major poll indicates, the majority of Americans feel that the mainstream media does not actually cover the news. So Americans are looking for outlets to post and discuss the stories that the media doesn’t cover. The answer is not to restrict posts on social media – unless of course the point is to block the internet as an alternative source of information

  41. Fake news or real news?
    I have gotten some very real news form “fake sites” aka non-biased liberal garbage.
    Sounds as if CIA chum Snowden is encouraging people to only obtain their news from (Soros endorsed) paid for mainstream outlets…. How typical.

  42. What? People are still using Facebook? I haven’t logged in since 2015.
    Definitely one of the better decisions I’ve made so far.
    For my daily dose of news I browse: Financial Times, the Washington Post, LA Times, Quartz, the Wall Street journal, Silicon Republic, Inc, Wired, Gizmodo, Sciencealert, Ecowatch, and Dailydot.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.