Facebook's New Tool to Combat Fake News Is Counterintuitive, But Effective

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Facebook's New Tool to Combat Fake News Is Counterintuitive, But Effective

The social media giant began a war against fake news after being accused of hosting bogus news articles during the 2016 presidential campaign. Facebook will still continue using other methods to crack down on what they call fake news, such as using fact-checkers to verify stories and reduce the number of false articles shared on the platform, as well as sending alerts to users that share disputed articles with extra content providing context to the story that they shared.

To bolster its latest attempt to fight fake news, Facebook is also "starting a new initiative to better understand how people decide whether information is accurate or not based on the news sources they depend upon", according to Lyons. The research showed that people are only 3.7 percent more likely to identify an article as fake when it is flagged. "Another problem with flagging suspicious news posts is the "implied truth" effect, whereby false stories that fail to get flagged are seen as more valid".

Another study published in the journal "Psychological Science in the Public Interest" showed that flagged stories in some cases could actually "further entrench someone's beliefs". Facebook said that made it hard for countries where there are "very few fact-checkers". Instead it will attach links to related articles that can give more context to a potentially fake article and evidence of its falsehoods.

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Changes Fake News Policy Facebook product designer Jeff Smith wrote on Medium that results from a test using disputed flags beginning in December 2016. were not good and buried important information relevant to debunking the hoax. Facebook has since made it easier to report possible hoaxes, add warnings before you share a disputed article and downplay questionable stories in your news feed.

After getting dragged around the time of the general election, Facebook has spent much of this year taking steps to combat the spread of misinformation on its site.

The tech company admitted that a feature that flags that the veracity of an article is disputed by a group of fact checkers "buried critical information" and "could sometimes backfire" as well as it being labour intensive.

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Though the design is changing, much of the experience is staying the same.

"We learned that dispelling misinformation is challenging", Facebook product designer Jeff Smith wrote in a separate blog post.

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