Facebook has announced new measures to prevent the spread of fake news, after it was criticised for spreading false reports during the US presidential election campaign.
The social media behemoth has now promised to target the “worst of the worst” offenders by partnering with fake checkers to sort out the true stories from those which are made up.
Fake news stories circulating Facebook cover a huge spectrum of subject matter, including claims of cancer cures, made up stories about celebrities and even sightings of Bigfoot. However, false political stories have come under fire the most over fears that they could have influenced the American election result.
There have also been other consequences. For example, a gun was fired inside a restaurant after a fake story about a paedophile ring at a pizza place. There are fears that fake news could lead to vigilante attacks.
John Hegeman, who is vice president of product management on Facebook’s news feed, said that the organisation had an obligation to prevent the spread of fake news. However, he went on to say that Facebook also strongly believes in being an open platform, so it is not up to the firm to police what is true and what is false.
Facebook is now making it easier for users to report news that they believe is fake. If Facebook gets enough reports about a particular story, it will pass it onto third-party fact checking organisations. Currently, Facebook is working with ABC News, The Associated Press, FactCheck.org, Politifact and Snopes.
Any stories which are flagged up as fake will not be removed altogether from Facebook, however, they will be labelled disputed, which means they will appear lower down in news feeds. Users will also be able to click on a label to find out why a story is disputed.