Facebook has been struggling to curb the spread of fake news on its platform the world over. In the West, it is facing flak for influencing the final result of the US Presidential Elections. In India, too, unattributed, baseless news items have been doing the rounds on Facebook. And Facebook-owned messaging service WhatsApp has nearly become the den of fake news. Given Facebook’s massive user-base in India (241 million), it’s high time the tech giant addressed the issue.
The world’s largest social network has issued full-page ads in leading Indian newspapers. Facebook’s initiative includes a 10-point guideline titled Tips to Spot False News on the Facebook Help page over the past few days. “Together we can limit the spread of false news,” the print ad (below) announced. Facebook is said to have run similar ad campaigns in the UK and other markets.
“We know people want to see accurate information on Facebook – and so do we. False news is harmful to our community, it makes the world less informed, and it erodes trust. It’s not a new phenomenon, and all of us — tech companies, media companies, newsrooms, teachers — have a responsibility to do our part in addressing it,” Adam Mosseri, VP, News Feed, wrote on Facebook Newsroom. ALSO READ: Facebook to fight fake news by restricting changes to link previews
Facebook is urging users to be more skeptical of news headlines, check dates and evidence of stories, look closely at the urls, formatting and so on to spot a false news item. While these methods are far from fool-proof, a step in the right direction is being taken by Facebook. The social media giant explained that it was looking to fight the spread of fake news in “three key areas”.
(a) disrupting economic incentives because most false news is financially motivated;
(b) building new products to curb the spread of false news; and
(c) helping people make more informed decisions when they encounter false news.
“We made an update to help show more informative links in News Feed… [Also] If an article has been reviewed by fact checkers, we may show the fact checking stories below the original post in Related Articles,” Mosseri explained. Facebook is also ensuring that “repeat offenders” that share stories marked as false again and again will no longer be allowed to advertise on the platform. ALSO READ: Facebook will now show ‘Related Articles’ to fake news links
Facebook’s full-page ads invoked some interesting reactions on Twitter. One user wonder “what triggered” this reaction from the company.
2/4 what triggered this full-page ad by Facebook (in Deccan Herald) with such a distant and loosely-maintained connection to Facebook (the
— Karthik (@beastoftraal) September 21, 2017
Another user seemed to think that the ad was relevant for WhatsApp.
Actually the ad is more relevant with regards to #WhatsApp, all the unwanted fake news and fake images gets viral in rampant bullet speed
— Rajesh Iyer (@iyer68) September 22, 2017
And somebody reckoned that it was a “big initiative” by Facebook.
There is one in Toi Bombay too, it’s a big initiative
— Girish Mallya (@girishmallya) September 22, 2017
Here’s hoping for big change too!