Facebook is still trying to address concerns about its role in the spread of false information and now offers users tips for spotting fake news. This move is part of a broader strategy that will also see a growing range of “signals” from user behavior and third-party fact checkers used to remove fake news from Facebook.
Users in 14 countries (the US, Canada, the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Brazil, Mexico, Columbia, Argentina, the Philippines, Indonesia, Taiwan, and Myanmar) can see a large post at the top of their feeds informing them that “it is possible to spot false news” and providing ten tips for identifying misinformation. They include such measures as checking web addresses and not trusting headlines with shocking claims.
This information post will be rolled out over 3 days and users will see it no more than 3 times. Facebook is going to push the message out globally after the initial rollout in 14 countries. The social network defines fake news as articles that set out to deceive, contain objectively provable falsehoods and pretend to be from a “legitimate” source. The fact checkers will only be able to limit the spread of fake stories, which is deliberately narrow to avoid accusations of politically motivated censorship.
It is believed that the majority of fake news on Facebook was created for financial rather than political gain. Experts also think that impact of such misinformation could be mitigated by limiting how often people see it and depriving it of ad revenue. At the same time, Facebook explained that educational measures were also necessary to help people understand which news is fake and to encourage a more critical approach to such information.
The social media giant has long been criticized for failure to remove misinformation, especially during the recent US election, when fabricated stories about Trump and Clinton were read and shared by millions. Moreover, there were concerns over the way Facebook approaches taking down inappropriate and illegal content, including hate speech, while censoring legitimate posts instead. Finally, Zuckerberg’s website has also been accused of a lack of transparency around the way it tackles misinformation and its processes for taking down content.