Facebook has announced new measures to clamp down on the spread of fake news content on its platform. It will now work with third-party fact-checkers to verify whether stories are a hoax and also make it easier for users to flag fake posts. The social giant also revealed that it may make changes to its algorithm in the future.
Facebook has come under increasing pressure to combat the spread of misinformation after critics claimed that fake news played a major role in influencing the recent US President Election. Google rebranded its “In the news” section last month to avoid misleading Internet users, and now Facebook is also taking steps to do the same.
Users will now be able to flag any fake articles by clicking on the “report post” button located above the content in a drop-down menu. Reported stories will then be fact-checked by five organisations, including ABC News, Politifact and FactCheck.org, using a new tool to evaluate their truthfulness. These posts will have a “disputed” label and could also become less visible in newsfeeds.
Each of the organisations involved will be bound to the highest standards of transparency, as they are all part of Poynter’s International Fact Checking Code of Principles. Facebook said that it was wary of becoming an “arbiter of truth” last month following widespread criticism, but founder Mark Zuckerberg commented that it is the platform’s responsibility to take action.
“While we don’t write the news stories you read and share, we also recognise we’re more than just a distributor of news,” Zuckerberg said. “We’re a new kind of platform for public discourse – and that means we have a new kind of responsibility to enable people to have the most meaningful conversations, and to build a space where people can be informed.”
Activist and journalist Daniel Sieradski welcomed the new updates and said that they are a start in the right direction, but admitted that the reliance on users to flag stories may not be entirely effective or productive, as content could be flagged by users who do not like it. Facebook confirmed that it will be looking to introduce other measures, such as penalising websites that try to mimic publishers and mislead readers.
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