Chances are that you have come across fake news on Facebook before.
You are casually scrolling through your Facebook newsfeed, checking up on who got married and laughing at your now fat friend's photo when you stumble on it- a news story that is so outrageous.
For a few seconds, you decide whether to click on the link or not. After some internal debate, you succumb to the pressure and you start reading about how President Buhari is planning to kill Igbos or President-Elect Donald Trump's plan to deport black people from America.
Welcome to the world of fake news peddled by the world's biggest social media network Facebook. It's not as if Facebook as a site is responsible for these false stories but it has created a large factory where unscrupulous people push out fake news daily.
A few months before the US election, fake news stories such as the Pope endorsing Donald Trump, a Democrat was murdered because he wanted to testify against Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton raped a 13-year-old girl and Denzel Washington endorsing Donald Trump.
These stories were fake but chances are if you are American and in tune with the elections you might have seen them on your newsfeed. Many people saw them and believed them which altered the result of the election. Most of the fake stories were from conservatives who wanted their man in the White House.
Speaking of the White House, President Barack Obama lambasted Facebook and other social media sites for helping the fake news industry grow online.
"If everything seems to be the same and no distinctions are made, then we won’t know what to protect," he said in Germany on Thursday, November 17, 2016.
Two days later, Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook had to speak about the embarrassing problem.
"We take misinformation seriously. Our goal is to connect people with the stories they find most meaningful, and we know people want accurate information. We've been working on this problem for a long time and we take this responsibility seriously. We've made significant progress, but there is more work to be done...
The problems here are complex, both technically and philosophically. We believe in giving people a voice, which means erring on the side of letting people share what they want whenever possible. We need to be careful not to discourage sharing of opinions or to mistakenly restrict accurate content. We do not want to be arbiters of truth ourselves, but instead, rely on our community and trusted third parties.
While the percentage of misinformation is relatively small, we have much more work ahead on our roadmap. Normally we wouldn't share specifics about our work in progress, but given the importance of these issues and the amount of interest in this topic, I want to outline some of the projects we already have underway, stronger detection, easy reporting, warnings, related articles quality, disrupting fake news economics and listening" wrote Zuckerberg on his Facebook wall on November 19, 2016.
While Facebook & co. are the outlets for fake news, the producers of fake news are in not even in America. A website called World Politicus ran a story that Hillary Clinton would be indicted in 2017 over crimes from her e-mail scandal.
As the news story got clicks (thanks to it shared on Facebook), the young owner of the site was in Macedonia watching revenue come into his Google Adsense account.
Many of the fake news sites are owned and controlled by foreigners or Americans who outsource the production of fake news stories to foreigners.
The issue of fake news is not an American problem. Europe is battling the scourge as well. Authorities in Germany and France are dealing with fake news and conservative sentiments are sweeping both nations just like in America. Brazil, Australia and India are also in the mix.
So with this global menace on the rise what are the big boys in tech doing? On November 14, 2016, Google announced that its advertising tools will not be available to sites who post fake news.
Facebook and Google's solutions to fake news were announced in November. It is still going to take a while before we see the effect. Till then expect to see more fake stories on Facebook and other social media sites.