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Facebook to flag potential fake news stories as ‘disputed’

Facebook is set to tackle the issue of fake news by marking articles shared on the social platform as “disputed” to flag to readers the story is potentially fake.

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The measurements, announced in a blog post by the US social media behemoth, follow on from Mark Zuckerberg committing to looking at the fake news issue after accusations Facebook had an influence on the US election outcome.

Adam Mosseri, VP product management, stated: “A few weeks ago we previewed some of the things we’re working on to address the issue of fake news and hoaxes. We’re committed to doing our part and today we’d like to share some updates we’re testing and starting to roll out.

“We believe in giving people a voice and that we cannot be arbiters of truth ourselves, so we’re approaching the problem carefully. We’ve focused our efforts on the worst of the worst, on the clear hoaxes spread by spammers for their own gain and on engaging both our community and third-party organisations.”

According to Mosseri the work to address hoaxes and fake news falls into four areas and are “just some of the first steps we’re taking to improve the experience for people on Facebook”.

Addressing Hoaxes and Fake News from Facebook on Vimeo.

Facebook will look to tackle fake news with easier reporting, flagging stories as disputed, informed sharing and disrupting financial incentives for spammers.

In terms of how stories will be flagged as disputed, Facebook has started a program to work with third-party fact checking organisations that are signatories of Poynter’s International Fact Checking Code of Principles.

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“We’ll use the reports from our community, along with other signals, to send stories to these organisations. If the fact checking organisations identify a story as fake, it will get flagged as disputed and there will be a link to the corresponding article explaining why. Stories that have been disputed may also appear lower in News Feed,” stated Mosseri.

“Once a story is flagged, it can’t be made into an ad and promoted, either.”

Facebook has also made it easier to report a potential hoax which users can do “by clicking the upper right hand corner of a post”.

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The social giant has also explored how often users read a story and then share it in what it is called “informed sharing”.

“We’re always looking to improve News Feed by listening to what the community is telling us. We’ve found that if reading an article makes people significantly less likely to share it, that may be a sign that a story has misled people in some way,” said Mosseri.

Facebook is also looking to fix the fake news issue by “disrupting financial incentives for spammers”.

“We’ve found that a lot of fake news is financially motivated. Spammers make money by masquerading as well-known news organisations, and posting hoaxes that get people to visit to their sites, which are often mostly ads,” said Mosseri.

According to Mosseri, Facebook has eliminated the ability “to spoof domains” while on the publisher side the company is “analysing publisher sites to detect where policy enforcement actions might be necessary”.

“It’s important to us that the stories you see on Facebook are authentic and meaningful,” Mosseri concluded.

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