Facebook unveils its plan to clamp down on "fake news"


Facebook has announced new tools aimed at stopping the spread of so-called "fake news" on the platform.

Mark Zuckerberg's social network had been criticised for failing to prevent the circulation of false articles and political misinformation in the run-up to the US presidential election.

As a result, it will now start fact-checking the authenticity of stories with the help of media organisations such as Snopes and ABC News, and subsequently labelling suspect articles and burying them in its News Feed.

These organisations form an international fact-checking network led by Poynter, a nonprofit school for journalism in Florida. Algorithms will also be deployed to note when questionable content is going viral and nip it in the bud.

People can report potential hoaxes more easily, with those articles then being verified by a third-party. While the content will still be available to be read if it's found guilty, it will be flagged as disputed and is less likely to pop up on your feed. The company also says it will do more to ensure such stories don't become ads or promotions on the platform.

Zuckerberg took to Facebook (of all places) to comment:

"A few weeks ago, I outlined some projects we're working on to build a more informed community and fight misinformation. Today, I want to share an update on work we're starting to roll out.

"We have a responsibility to make sure Facebook has the greatest positive impact on the world. This update is just one of many steps forward, and there will be more work beyond this.

"Facebook is a new kind of platform different from anything before it. I think of Facebook as a technology company, but I recognise we have a greater responsibility than just building technology that information flows through. While we don't write the news stories you read and share, we also recognise we're more than just a distributor of news. We're a new kind of platform for public discourse – and that means we have a new kind of responsibility to enable people to have the most meaningful conversations, and to build a space where people can be informed.

"With any changes we make, we must fight to give all people a voice and resist the path of becoming arbiters of truth ourselves. I believe we can build a more informed community and uphold these principles."

Here are the kind of prompts users will see...

"We've focused our efforts on the worst of the worst, on the clear hoaxes spread by spammers for their own gain, and on engaging both our community and third party organisations," Facebook News Feed chief Adam Mosseri said in a blog post yesterday.

Craig Fitzpatrick, Newstalk.com 

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