Throughout this year s presidential campaign, journalists have focused, correctly, on the power of Facebook to shape, distort, and ultimately control the news and information that inform and educate voters.
They ve written dozens of stories about the proliferating number of anonymous, low-rent websites that publish bombastic and clearly inaccurate stories designed to spread throughout Facebook s platform as quickly as possible.
The most damning indictment came from New York magazine s Max Read, in an article titled Donald Trump Won Because of Facebook :
It can be clarifying to identify the conditions that allowed access to the highest levels of the political system a man so far outside what was, until recently, the political mainstream that not a single former presidential candidate from his own party would endorse him.
Pointing to false stories like Russia Asks CIA: Why Did Hillary Clinton Just Buy $137 Million Worth Of Illegal Arms?
and WikiLeaks: Clintons Purchase $200 Million Maldives Estate, Read lays out the case that Facebook s flattening effect — the way it visually renders content to seem more or less the same — made it unusually difficult, though not impossible, for laypeople to distinguish between articles published by a week-old blog founded by a Macedonian teenager and those published by, say, The New York Times.