Facebook takes steps to combat fake news with use of third party fact checkers

Facebook is rolling out measures to tackle fabricated news items following criticism that the social media platform was riddled with hoax stories during the US election.


Readers suspicious of a story can report it to Facebook by clicking on upper right hand corner of a post, with the story then sent to third party fact checkers who will scrutinise its authenticity.

If it is identified as fake, it will be flagged as “disputed” along with a link to the article explaining why.

Disputed stories may also appear lower down news feeds, although the new measures stop short preventing it from being shared.

“Once a story is flagged it can’t be made into an ad and promoted, either,” Facebook vice president product management Adam Mosseri said in a statement. “It will still be possible to share these stories, but you will see a warning that the story has been disputed as you share.”


He added: “It’s important to us that the stories you see on Facebook are authentic and meaningful.”

The measures to tackle hoax stories follow a pledge by Mark Zuckerberg to look at the issue after accusations Facebook had an influence on the US election outcome.

However, he also warned that “we must be extremely cautious about becoming arbiters of truth ourselves”, a comment reiterated by Mosseri.

On his Facebook page yesterday, Zuckerberg said: “While we don’t write the news stories you read and share, we also recognize we’re more than just a distributor of news. 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.”

Facebook also said it was aiming to “disrupt” financial incentives for spammers who make money by “masquerading as well-known news organisations”.

“On the buying side we’ve eliminated the ability to spoof domains which will reduce the prevalence of sites that pretend to be real publications,” Mosseri said. “On the publisher side we are analysing publisher sites to detect where policy enforcement actions might be necessary.”

The statement added that if reading a story makes people less likely to share it – as opposed to simply sharing it on the basis of a headline – “that may be a sign that a story has misled people in some way”.

“We’re going to test incorporating this signal into ranking, specifically for articles that are outliers, where people who read the article are significantly less likely to share it,” Mosseri said.


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