The Short Version: Facebook News

The Short Version: Facebook News

The point of it all is to break down the headlines, the week’s most controversial issues, determine why a particular issue is important to you, and reveal the best arguments on each side of the story.

By reading Cleo Abram’s The Short Version, you join a vibrant group of people with two simple beliefs: 1) Every important issue can and should be discussed in a way we all can understand; 2) Understanding both sides makes us more thoughtful and our views more informed.

In some of  the most recent iterations of The Short Version, Cleo Abram tackled the post-election madness by featuring analyses from highly intelligent group of friends and acquaintances, both resigned to the outcome and not. She explored the viability of the Electoral College, because, well, this is the second election of the past five in which the person with the most votes is not going to the White House. This week, The Short Version looks at the role of Facebook in helping to spread fake or misreported news (and therefore influencing the election). Should the media behemoth do more to prevent the spread of  what amounts to bold-faced lies?

Note: If you have missed any of Cleo’s blogs, just go to our Home Page, type “The Short Version” into Search (magnifying glass icon) and poof, like magic, all her blogs will appear.

“I love getting feedback every week—thank you! If you want come hang out, debate a thing or two, and meet other Shorties, check out Short Events,” says Cleo. “Or if you have a topic you’d be interested in guest writing, just let me know! Let’s make it happen.”

Cleo Constantine Abrams of the “Short Form,” offering densely packed spins on issues of national and global importance.

Cleo Constantine Abram of the “Short Form,” offering densely packed spins on issues of national and global importance.

What’s happening?

In an ideal world, American voters use correct, carefully reported news to inform their decisions. But in the last few months of this election, fake or misreported news was rampant, subtly changing public opinion and arguably influencing election results.

In the last three months of the election, the top fake political news stories garnered more engagement than the top stories from mainstream media outlets. Analysis by Buzzfeed found that the top 20 hoax stories alone gained 8,711,000 shares, reactions, and comments on Facebook, where the top 20 mainstream news stories earned only 7,367,000.

Despite Mark Zuckerberg’s likely accurate claim that less than 1% of the content available on Facebook is false, the reality is that hoax news—by design and by human nature—now spreads more quickly and is more viral than factual reporting.

Why is it important?

Research shows 44% of all American adults get news on Facebook and 61% of millennials use Facebook as their primary news source. The prevalence of hoax news on the site is a big deal. By infecting what we know, it affects what we think, how we vote, and how we act in our democracy.

Two pieces of the conversation are being overlooked:

  1. The term “fake news” ignores the difference between fake information and false political reporting. To quote New Yorker writer Jelani Cobb, “fake news is Angelina Jolie to Leave Brad Pitt for Space AlienWhat we’re talking about now is propaganda.”
  2. Propaganda on Facebook is one small piece of the larger problem of the “echo chamber” or “filter bubble” created by insular communities on social media—and in real life. From the process of choosing like-minded friends to the personalization of our search results, we are both self-segregating and being siloed based on our views.

Debate it!

Should Facebook do more to prevent the spread of fake news?

 Why “The Short Version” on TIO:

Nine+ ago, Telluride Inside…and Out began as a lifestyle webzine. Today, in the full knowledge that Telluride is a window on the world, we continue to bring the “zazz” (short for “pizzazz) of the region to a local, national, and global audience by covering everything from Telluride’s robust cultural economy – major events and festivals – to health and fitness and outdoor adventure. When Telluride travels, we write about places to go, people to meet too. (That’s part of the “Out” part of our handle, the other, obviously, Outdoors.)

And now, this new weekly column, “The Short Version,” which offers simple summaries of issues of national and global importance. (Though we won’t go political, or rather we won’t show bias.)

“The Short Version” is written by Cleo Constantine Abram, the daughter of Telluride locals Eleni Constantine and Jonathan Abram (and therefore an honorary local and regular visitor) and a digital strategist.

Why “The Short Version”? Because, though we live in Shangri-La, our bubble is not impermeable and the rest of the world is only a click away. Because there is no inconsequential action; only consequential inaction. And because information is power in a moment so many of us are feeling powerless.

More about Cleo Constantine Abram:

Cleo Abram 2

Cleo grew up in Washington D.C., lives in New York City, and loves to visit her parents in Telluride. She authors “The Short Version,” a newsletter that explains each week’s most important issue and both sides of the debate around it.

Cleo is a digital strategist now working at Vox, a general interest news site for the 21st century. Its mission is simple: Explain the news. Politics, public policy, world affairs, pop culture, science, business, and more.

Cleo’s work focuses on ways to share, educate, and inform using online platforms. While in college at Columbia University, she guided the school’s entrance into online education through her role as the youngest elected representative to the Columbia Senate, which makes university-wide policy.

She continued her work on online education at TED-Ed, the educational branch of the nonprofit, building new programs and online tools to support high school teachers worldwide.

Continuing her work with TED, Cleo founded and led an early TEDx conference, the organization’s community-specific series.

Most importantly, Cleo loves to ski.

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