The world’s largest social network is fashioning itself into a lie detector for news.
How, exactly? Partnering with the Poynter International Fact-Checking Network, Facebook will let fact-checkers at outlets like Snopes and the Associated Press determine which news stories shared by its users are rooted in the truth.
The effort is of course designed to push back against the spread of false stories, for which many find Facebook complicit. The proliferation of fake news items online is widely believed to have played a role in the results of the 2016 election. For example, did you know that the Pope endorsed Donald Trump on his way to the Presidency?
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg thinks it’s “pretty crazy” to suggest fake news affected the election, but he is developing a robust solution for it anyway. Where they previously stood to earn thousands of dollars a month, sites identified as part of the problem will be banned from Facebook’s ad network. Software algorithms will also work alongside human fact-checkers to identify potentially fake stories — if a news item is getting clicks but no shares, that might be an indicator of fake news.
Once a news item is formally flagged as fake, it gets a plainly visible “disputed” tag, linking to a page explaining why the story is purported to be false. When friends share fake stories, they’ll appear lower in your news feed, and their post will be dominated by the “disputed” tag. Needless to say, it won't be a good look to continue to share fake news after this feature formally rolls out.