Last Thursday, Facebook announced that they will start making more of an effort to eliminate the prevalence of fake news stories on their site. In order to do this, the company will begin to fact-check, label, and bury fake news and other hoaxes in the site’s News Feed.
The decision to fact-check articles came after the company received criticism for its role in the spreading of false information during this year’s presidential election, including an article that claimed the pope was endorsing Donald Trump.
In order to achieve their goal of eliminating fake news from the site, Facebook will be working in conjunction with media organizations, such as Snopes and ABC News. These media outlets are part of a large fact-checking network run by Poynter, which is a non-profit journalism institute located in St. Peters, Florida.
Facebook will begin this process gradually, starting with only a small portion of its users in the United States. If users post a story and fact-checkers determine that it is fake, it will be marked accordingly and demoted in the site’s News Feed so others don’t see it.
A representative of the company said that Facebook will also use algorithms to determine whether fake stories are starting to go viral. This will aid in deciding whether the story should be buried in the News Feed.
Adam Mosseri, Facebook’s News Feed chief, wrote in a blog post recently that the company’s efforts would be focused on the worst cases first. These cases include spammers who are spreading their fake information in order to gain more attention.
According to another company spokesperson, in addition to the other fact-checking measures put into place, a team of researchers will review each of the website domains. They will send sites that look fake to the third-party fact checkers for further review in accordance with Poynter’s code of ethics. Snopes, Factcheck.org, ABC News, and PolitiFact are the four organizations that Facebook will begin the fact checking process with.
The Associated Press will also serve as a fact-checking partner.
A spokesperson from Poynter noted that Facebook is only relying on their code of ethics as a starting point to determine which news outlets it chooses to verify.
Other representatives have confirmed that Facebook will not be paying any of these third-party organizations to fact-check, but they will be giving them access to tools that will enable them to label stories in the Facebook News Feed as fake.
Any websites that are regarded as fake through this process will also not be allowed to sell ads to the site. Spammers have previously been able to make thousands of dollars each month through ad sales to sites like Facebook.
Facebook considers itself to be an “open media platform,” meaning that it relies on users and other media sources to publish reliable information. Patrick Walker, who is in charge of media partnerships for Facebook, recently said that the company does not want to be editing the information that is shared or deciding what users will read about on the site.
But many users, including President Barack Obama, have voiced their concerns about the site’s dissemination of misinformation.
Mark Zuckerburg, CEO of Facebook, didn’t seem to be that concerned about the issue; however, after recent backlash, he feels the company now has more of a responsibility to create a site where people can feel confident about the information they are reading. He says that, while the company does not write or choose to post any of the information that is found on the site, it is the company’s duty to ensure that people are having more meaningful conversations while using their site.