Facebook has unveiled a new feature, which allows users to flag news articles deemed:
“purposefully fake or deceitful news.”
The move is said to be aimed at restricting the number of fake stories, hoaxes and scams appearing on the social network.
The new algorithm developed by the internet giant filters out the flagged story’s link from the people’s feeds, based on the number of users who reported the story to be fake.
“A post with a link to an article that many people have reported as a hoax or chose to delete will get reduced distribution in the News Feed,” Facebook said.
Screenshot from Facebook
The goal is to clean up News Feeds and limit fake information on the 1.35-billion member network. Flagged stories will also come with a warning:
“Many people have reported that this story contains false information.”
Screenshot from Facebook
“Today’s update to News Feed reduces the distribution of posts that people have reported as hoaxes and adds an annotation to posts that have received many of these types of reports to warn others on Facebook,” software engineer Erich Owens said.
— Pitt Griffin (@pittgriffin) January 21, 2015
It is not believed that the new feature will affect satirical stories.
“We’ve found from testing that people tend not to report satirical content intended to be humorous, or content that is clearly labeled as satire. This type of content should not be affected by this update,” Owens added.
Facebook is increasingly becoming a tool used for news updates. Pew Research Center said in its 2013 survey that 30 percent of adults in the US rely on Facebook for their news.
At the same time, Facebook had a number of fake stories eating away at its popularity and spreading globally across users’ news feeds, such as dinosaur sightings, Obama funding a Muslim museum, and research proving Santa Claus’ existence.
Will be interesting to see if the new Facebook “Fake News” option is gamed by people trying to bury legit news stories that they don’t like. — alexei oreskovic (@lexnfx) January 20, 2015
Many on social media have welcomed Facebook’s efforts. Some even hinted that Facebook users could limit the number of news blunders, such as the latest Fox News incorrect report of Paris “no-go zones” governed by Sharia law, which non-Muslims are forbidden to enter and police avoid going to.
Facebook is cracking down on fake news. Next up: carefully curated photos that make your friends lives look perfect https://t.co/Ii1IdKpPK5
— Ben Popper (@benpopper) January 20, 2015
Others raised serious concerns over what the new Facebook policy could mean when it comes to favoritism and general users’ dislikes of certain stories.