August 7, 2017
After months of testing, Facebook is launching a “related articles” feature, in another effort to combat fake news without actually taking down those posts. Instead, U.S. users will see links to informative articles on the same topic appended to stories spreading misinformation. The goal is to convince users to hesitate before sharing false news stories, although it does not prevent them from doing so. Facebook is also paying Snopes.com and other fact-checking sites to tag completely false stories as being “disputed.”
The Wall Street Journal notes that, “the moves show Facebook’s strategy to reduce the presence of misinformation on its platform, without going so far as censoring it, a role it says it doesn’t want.”
Criticized for not preventing the spread of false news during the 2016 presidential campaign, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg “eventually acknowledged Facebook’s responsibility to curb misinformation,” but doubled down on his wariness of Facebook becoming what he terms “arbiters of truth.”
Google has also partnered with fact checkers, and “recently retooled its search engine to prevent sites peddling fake news, hoaxes and conspiracy theories from appearing in its top results.”
Also new, Facebook has begun to pay fact-checkers. Although it won’t reveal details of financial arrangements, nonprofit FactCheck.org’s financial report states that it was paid more than $52,000 for the first six months of 2017. Facebook intends to “rely more heavily on fact checkers” in the future, and is already “using fact checkers’ rulings to improve its algorithms for predicting whether a story is potentially false.”
So-called disputed stories are placed lower in users’ news feeds “if two or more label a story” as such, and some “disputed” tags “warn users that fact checkers found an article’s claims completely false.” Facebook is testing other ways to use the “related articles” feature, such as appending stories written by its fact checkers “that debunk a false story in lieu of a disputed tag,” and also using “related articles” with “some legitimate stories that are going viral,” to expose users to different perspectives.
Facebook Is Starting to Put More Posts from Local Politicians into People’s News Feed, Recode, 8/4/17