The social media giant Facebook unveiled some new steps on Thursday that it’s taking to address hoaxes and fake news as the IT giant faces ongoing questions about the role that fake news played in the election — and criticism for not doing enough to crack down on it.
It’s testing and starting to roll out some changes focused on “the worst of the worst, on the clear hoaxes spread by spammers for their own gain”, the company said following up on a blog post that Mark Zukerberg posted a few weeks ago.
Most notably, by getting the 1.8 billion people who use the platform to identify and call out fake stories, Facebook is engaging its biggest asset — not its algorithms, but its users. The company will roll out tools that make it much easier to report hoaxes and mark news as fake.
And Facebook will work with fact-checking organizations that are part of Poynter’s International Fact-Checking Network to make sure it doesn’t get embroiled in questions about what’s considered fake and real. It’s sent to those organizations if the algorithm or users flag a story as questionable.
It’s linked to an explanation of why once a story has been flagged as “disputed”. Those questionable stories can’t be made into an ad and promoted and are deprioritized in users’ news feeds.
Now only if they click through a warning that the story is disputed, users can still share a fake article. And to analyze if that article is somehow misleading, Facebook is taking information about how consumers share articles. They’re figuring out if it makes sense to incorporate that information into their news feed ranking.
Facebook is working to eliminate the financial payoff for spammers to target the financial motivation driving fake news.
“Spammers make money by masquerading as well-known news organizations, and posting hoaxes that get people to visit to their sites, which are often mostly ads,” Adam Mosseri, Facebook vice president of news feed, wrote in a bog on Thursday..
“So we’re doing several things to reduce the financial incentives. 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.”
Bucking the broader market’s dramatic gain over that period, Facebook shares are down about 3 percent since the day after the election.
No connection between fake news to pressure on the stock has been made by Wall Street analysts. There are plenty of questions about how Trump’s opposition to net neutrality could raise costs for Facebook and other video-focused companies and Facebook is certainly in good company among the other tech names that have not participated in the rally.
But there’s no question that this is a topic that Facebook would like to erase from its news feed, and from headlines about the company.