Facebook’s quest to combat Fake News

Facebook’s quest to combat Fake News

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“Hi, my name is Facebook and I have a fake news problem.”

For a while Facebook has been struggling to battle with the term ‘fake news’. Donald Trump claims he invented it saying it is “one of the greatest of all terms” he has come up with. Seemingly, it’s his ‘go-to’ phrase, as it’s used in many of his controversial tweets and one that has caused significant issues between himself and social giant Facebook.

With Facebook’s most recent ‘fake news’ faux pas causing great dispute, where misinformation from an anonymous message board was promoted regarding the recent Las Vegas tragedy. Surely it’s time it addressed these issues once and for all.

It seems it may have finally seen the light and taken the first step to admitting it has a problem. In a bid to curb its bad habit of spreading fake news, and a growing backlash against the company in the wake of last year’s presidential election, it is testing out a new feature. A button that appears as a lower case ‘i’ that enables users themselves to tell the difference between content from trustworthy publishers and articles that seem more suspicious than usual.

The feature allows Facebook users to get more information about news sources without physically having to leave the social site. It will help to provide an explanation about who the publisher is, along with any additional stories related to the specific news article and insight into who is reading the article and where.

“Helping people access this important contextual information can help them evaluate if articles are from a publisher they trust, and if the story itself is credible,” Facebook said in its announcement for the test.

With only a select number of users being able to see the ‘i’ button appear on their news feed, Facebook has promised to listen to the feedback from these users and publishers before making a rash decision (like many they have made previously) and deciding to roll it out further.

I can’t help but wonder though whether this will make any impact. The social giant’s previous efforts to kick its fake news habit, which was in the form of a “Disputed” tag on the article in question, didn’t do much to change the habits of younger Facebook users.

What it also does is beg the question about whether we should be relying solely on a social network to act as a valid, latest news source, instead of listening to that of traditional media. Only time will tell if this latest step will prove to be beneficial and whether Facebook has finally gone cold turkey on ‘fake news’.

If Facebook can’t improve users’ trust in what is shown in its news feed, this could result in fewer link clicks and ultimately impact on innocent publishers whose content is trustworthy.

So, watch this space!

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