When Donald Trump won the US presidency, some members of the public were quick to point out that the spread of fake news certainly had a hand in how the elections played out. And as one of the biggest sharing platforms, Facebook was almost as quickly blamed for this. Though founder Mark Zuckerberg was quick to go on the defence, the social media site has since installed security measures to curb the spread.
When blame started to get thrown, Zuckerberg reasoned that Facebook was never a site meant to share news or even check if it is correct. Instead, it is a platform to share information from third party players. However, he said that it was not his company's responsibility to check whether or not information shared is factual or not. Nevertheless, his team has done right and placed measures to decrease the speed of the same.
According to USA Today, Facebook announced on Thursday that it would make it easier for users to report a hoax, as well as for fact-checking organizations to flag questionable news articles. Employees will also reportedly pay much closer attention to vital details such as which articles are read but not shared on the social media site. Furthermore, the company is removing financial incentives for spammers. It has already started, as the company banned fake news sites from ad-selling.
The plans, however, do come with certain problems, which the company has already addressed. "We believe in giving people a voice and that we cannot become arbiters of truth ourselves, so we're approaching this problem carefully," said Adam Mosseri, vice president of product management. "We've relied heavily on our community for help on this issue, and this can help us detect more fake news."
These news articles that are flagged as fake will then be checked by third-party fact-checking organizations, which are part of Poynter's International Fact Checking Network. If the organizations do find that the news is fake, it will classified as a "disputed" article, with a partnering link explaining why this is so. Furthermore, these stories will be pushed down on all News Feeds.
"It will still be possible to share these stories, but you will see a warning that the story has been disputed as you share," Mosseri clarified. Once the article is disputed and flagged, it cannot be turned into an ad, nor can it be promoted. Theoretically, the spread of false information will be slowed down at the very least.
This is not the first time that Facebook has responded to negative media attention on the social network. As Reuters recalls, the company fired contractors who managed the site's trending news sidebar sometime earlier this year. This was after a report by Gizmodo quoted an anonymous employee, who claimed that the site routinely suppressed conservative news.
When all is said and done, Facebook has and will likely continue to do right by the public. This method of reporting fake news, which will be acted upon accordingly, keeps the social network site as unbiased and as responsible as possible. It does not, however, guarantee that all news articles seen on users' News Feeds are now going to be 100 percent reliable.