During the recent US presidential elections, fake news became hot topic.
One of the most notable example of the same was the “Pizzagate conspiracy theory”. According to a New York Times article, social media was abuzz with news that Comet Ping Pong, a pizza restaurant in Northwest Washington, was running a child-sex ring led by Hillary Clinton.
Hearing this, a man walked into the pizzeria armed with an assault rifle and allegedly fired a shot, leading to the police locking down the area. The man reasoned that he came to the restaurant to “self investigate” the claims.
Speaking on this issue, former President Barack Obama felt that Facebook was responsible for creating “a dust cloud of nonsense” by allowing fake news to spread. To resolve this, Facebook has launched a tool for users to report fake news and understand which news story to trust.
According to Vice President of Facebook News Feed Adam Mosseri’s blog post there are four primary initiatives that have been undertaken. These four initiatives will help a news story to be authentic and more meaningful to the readers.
Easier Reporting of Fake News
If a Facebook user suspects a news story to be a hoax, he or she can report it with a few clicks as shown below:
Flagging Stories as ‘Disputed’
The social media giant has also collaborated with third-party fact checking organisations. If the fact checking organisations identify a story to be a hoax or fake, it will be labeled as 'disputed' and a corresponding article will be given with an explanation of why it was done.
Although the reader will still be able to read the ‘disputed’ story, it cannot be made into an ad or be promoted. Furthermore, Facebook will warn the user that the accuracy of the news story they are sharing was disputed by a third party fact checker. In addition, stories that are labeled as ‘disputed’ will be ranked lower in the news feed.
Avoiding Fake News For Monetary Gains
Facebook realised that some fake news articles are financially motivated and is trying to curb this matter by reducing the financial incentives. Spammers not only make money by impersonating familiar news organisations, but also post hoaxes that get people to visit their sites through ads.
The multi-million dollar company has eliminated the ability to impersonate domains. Also, on the publishing side, Facebook is analysing publisher sites to detect where policy enforcement actions might be needed.
Signaling Less Shared News Story
Facebook can detect if a news story makes a user less likely to share it, which could be a sign that the story has misled the reader in some way. As a result, a less shared article will be ranked lower.
Although Facebook is initiating these steps, there is more that needs to be done besides labeling and ranking news feeds. But we hope these initiatives help improve news stories, make them more genuine, credible and avoid unnecessary lock-downs.