Facebook Aims To Give Users Kibosh Clout Against Fake News And Hoax Headlines

Facebook has a fake news problem, and it knows it. The social network giant was already under fire for hoax stories popping into its trending feed following its decision to fire all of its human curators in favor of AI algorithms. Things came to a head following last month’s U.S. presidential election and the role that fake news stories could have possibly had in swaying voters or further emboldening their positions.

While Mark Zuckerberg at the time dismissed any notion that Facebook played an outsized role in determining the outcome of the election, the company is now making a concerted effort to combat fake news. “We believe in giving people a voice and that we cannot become arbiters of truth ourselves, so we’re approaching this problem carefully,” writes Adam Mosseri, Vice President of Facebook’s News Feed. “We’ve focused our efforts on the worst of the worst, on the clear hoaxes spread by spammers for their own gain, and on engaging both our community and third party organizations.”

In orders to root out fake news and hoaxes, Facebook is taking a four-pronged approach. First, it is making it easier for Facebook users to report a fake/hoax story if they see it pop up in their News Feed. Clicking on the upper right hand corner of a news post will allow you to report it.

hoax reporting

Second, for stories that aren’t straight up bogus and may be a bit more nuanced about misinformation, Facebook will flag the story as disputed. “If the fact checking organizations identify a story as fake, it will get flagged as disputed and there will be a link to the corresponding article explaining why,” adds Mosseri. Stories that are disputed will appear lower in your News Feed thanks to unfavorable ranking algorithms. If you still choose to share such links, you will get a pop up notification telling you that the information included in these stories has run afoul of fact-checkers.

story disputed

Third, Facebook will keep close tabs on the articles that users read from their News Feed and if they end up sharing it. If users are found to not share the stories in meaningful numbers, it could be a signal that the information contained within might be misleading.

The final piece to the puzzle is making it less beneficial for spammers to profit from fake news stories. We’ve already reported on sites that disguise themselves as legit news organizations in order to peddle fake stories. These sites profit handsomely for such dastardly deeds, but Facebook will begin cracking down on these stories which often go viral.

Taken as a whole, Facebook hopes that these steps will help to make the social networking site a more credible source for news. After all, as more people shun traditional forms of media (like TV and physical newspapers) for information, outlets like Facebook are increasingly relied upon for those that soak up any and all information like a sponge.