Facebook Tweaks News Feed To Squash Viral Clickbait And Fake News

Imagine for a moment if British forces never arrived at Lexington and Concord over 240 years ago. The colonial militia would have accused Paul Revere of spreading fake news after his infamous midnight ride to warn patriots of the advancing redcoats. It did not play out that way, of course, but had he lived in an era of fake news, who knows what might have happened. More than two centuries later, the proliferation of bogus news is fast becoming an epidemic, especially on Facebook, which is taking more steps to combat the problem.

Through a new update that was rolled out yesterday, Facebook said its users should see fewer posts and ads in their News Feeds that link to "low-quality webpage experiences." These are pages that Facebook has identified as containing "little substantive content." They also tend to contain "disruptive, shocking, or malicious ads."

Fake News

This is an expansion of a policy Facebook rolled out last year to prevent advertisers with low-quality webpage experiences from advertising on the social network. What's new is that Facebook is increasing its enforcement of these ads while now also taking into account organic posts in News Feeds.

"If we determine a post might link to these types of low-quality webpages, it may show up lower in people’s feeds and may not be eligible to be an ad. This way people can see fewer misleading posts and more informative posts," Facebook says.

Fake news has been a growing problem for busy portals such as Facebook. It is also more than just a nuisance. False news stories can influence the way people vote and have other harmful effects. Students are especially susceptible for falling for fake news stories, as a recent Stanford study determined based on a sample of more than 7,800 students from middle school through college.

Facebook's update does not mean you will never see a fake news in your feed again. For one, it does not solve the problem entirely, it tries to suppress the more obvious culprits through artificial intelligence. And secondly, this will be a gradual roll out over the next several months.