Facebook Cracks Down on Fake News and Hoaxes

Facebook has released an update that adds a warning message to posts that have been marked as fake news or offensive. 

In an official release, it is promised that the marked content is not going to be removed from the news feed, nor will it be reviewed for accuracy. It is proposed to be a simple warning system to other users.

“We’ve heard from people that they want to see fewer stories that are hoaxes, or misleading news,” the release states.

Two examples of the hoaxes Facebook is targeting are given: “Click here to win a lifetime supply of coffee,” or “Man sees dinosaur on hike in Utah.” 
Facebook explains:

People often share these hoaxes and later decide to delete their original posts after they realize they have been tricked. These types of posts also tend to receive lots of comments from friends letting people know this is a hoax, and comments containing links to hoax-busting websites. In fact, our testing found people are two times more likely to delete these types of posts after receiving such a comment from a friend.

If those types of stories show up in a user’s News Feed, they have the option to report the story. A Facebook pop-up menu will appear (see below) and ask what’s wrong with the post. Notice the selection, “It goes against my views.”

The update will allow Facebook to step in and add the following disclaimer: “Many people on Facebook have reported that this story contains false information.” See the screenshot below for a real-world example:

If posts receive a high volume of tags, the warning message will be added above the post. The idea is to reduce the number of times these posts appear in users’ news feeds. 

However, several questions arise: What about satirical news sites? Or friends joking with one another? Or the many trolls who will tag anything, (especially sourced as Fox News)? Or what if someone’s beliefs, politics, or language “makes fun of [your] values, religion or politics?”

Facebook attempts an answer:

We’ve found from testing that people tend not to report satirical content intended to be humorous, or content that is clearly labeled as satire. This type of content should not be affected by this update.

The vast majority of publishers on Facebook will not be impacted by this update. A small set of publishers who are frequently posting hoaxes and scams will see their distribution decrease.


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