Did you know that the most shared post on Facebook is fake news? You probably shared it too because it was built to get clicks and shares. Here's what it is
What would happen if the most shared post on Facebook in 2019 was fake news? In fact, this is already happening. The news is not surprising, partly because there are so many hoaxes on the social network. However, it is an inconvenient truth, especially since Mark Zuckerberg has been waging a personal battle against the numerous fake news circulating within his social network for a few years now.
The news was spread by a 32-year-old editor in late January. The post packaged and accompanied with all the most attractive keywords was published on the Facebook page of a local radio station, and from here began the tran-tran, able to transform the content into a real viral phenomenon. In just two months it became the most shared post on Facebook. The story has nothing to do with the new love of a well-known influencer or with the President of the United States. In fact, it is a piece of information related to a local news story.
What is the most shared post on Facebook in 2019 about?"
The fake news that generated thousands of shares has as its subject a local crime story. Moreover, it is not a long article, but rather a small blurb counting around 120 characters. The radio-journalist who wrote it certainly didn't think he would reach such a wide audience. Instead, the fake news garnered nearly 800,000 interactions on Facebook in the six weeks since its publication, nearly twice as many as any other English-language content posted on the social network this year.
Why the content was so successful is a mystery. However, if you look closely you can glimpse some of the qualities common to all viral posts. What jumps out most is the catchy and ambiguous headline, "Suspected human trafficker, child predator may be in our area." These few words, which don't refer to any particular location, are crafted to make everyone feel involved, everyone in danger. They also break through one of the most heartfelt issues, child abduction. Every parent, grandparent, uncle, sibling, friend is led to click on the headline to read the full story and be ready to foil any solicitation in their area.
And this is where Facebook's strategy against fake news collapses like a house of cards: there will always be that news that can move minds and go beyond human rationality, thus bypassing Facebook's controls. This will allow you to have many clicks. Fortunately this news is false and totally unfounded. And for this very reason it represents an example of Fake News to be on guard against, in order not to spread unfounded panic.