DAVID GREENE, HOST:
Facebook is under fire for fake news hosting articles that are not true but go viral on the app. NPR's Aarti Shahani reports that the company's responding with mixed messages. And we should mention here Facebook pays NPR and other leading news organizations to produce live video streams that run on the site.
AARTI SHAHANI, BYLINE: Since President-elect Donald Trump won, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has come out not once but twice to address this issue of fake news. And he said the idea that fake news on his platform influenced the election in any way is, quote, "a pretty crazy idea." His former employee, Antonio Garcia-Martinez, disagrees.
ANTONIO GARCIA-MARTINEZ: Yeah, I mean, I think Zuck (ph) is being more than a little disingenuous here.
SHAHANI: Garcia-Martinez, who's written a book about the company called "Chaos Monkeys," was hired to help lead Facebook's efforts to target ads. He says his ad team used to joke it would be so easy to throw an election just by showing vote reminders to select counties. It was a joke, but his point is they have real potential power.
GARCIA-MARTINEZ: There's an entire political team and a massive office in D.C. that tries to convince advertisers that, you know, Facebook can convince users to vote one way or the other. And then Zuck gets up and says, oh, by the way, Facebook content couldn't possibly influence the election. I mean (laughter), it's - it's contradictory on the face of it.
SHAHANI: Facebook makes money by selling ad space inside its news feed. And it makes money as a broker between its advertisers and other online companies. But on Monday, a Facebook spokesperson told NPR, we're not doing business with fake news apps. We're not letting them use the ad network, and that's been our policy. But the company did not address the reality that, if fake news lands in your news feed, Facebook makes money from the eyeballs it draws. Earlier on Monday, Google said it's working on a policy to keep their ads off fake news sites. Neither company has explained how it will identify news as fake. Aarti Shahani, NPR News, New York.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.