comscore Facebook F8: Forget VR, what mankind needs is freedom from fake news
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Facebook F8: Forget VR, what mankind needs is freedom from fake news

Facebook, set the fancy aside and figure out the basics, please.

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F8, Facebook s annual Developer Conference kicks off tonight (IST) and the social media giant is expected to focus on Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence this year. While VR and AI lead the way into the future, the one problem looming over Facebook is the peril of spam and fake news. Also Read - Top 5 WhatsApp features expected to roll out soon

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Over the recent past, Facebook has faced ire from netizens as well as governments for its inability to check the spread of fabricated news either through malicious intent or mischief. Facebook has made attempts in the past to try and crack down on fake accounts and spam news. So far, its efforts have largely been unsuccessful. At the annual Facebook event scheduled later today, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg is expected to address the issue at F8 in his keynote tonight and also in multiple sessions held for digital media during the conference. Also Read - Using Instagram to connect with friends? Beware! Your chats may be at risk

The first time Facebook acknowledged the problem of fake news was in November 2016 when Zuckerberg put up a detailed post on his page listing out the initiatives taken by Facebook to clamp down on the menace. He highlighted steps Facebook would be taking to curb fake news making reporting easier, changing the structure of paid content and adverts, strict filtering, warnings displayed over doubtful messages, etc. As said by Zuckerberg, Historically, we have relied on our community to help us understand what is fake and what is not. Anyone on Facebook can report any link as false, and we use signals from those reports along with a number of others like people sharing links to myth-busting sites such as Snopes to understand which stories we can confidently classify as misinformation. Similar to clickbait, spam and scams, we penalize this content in News Feed so it’s much less likely to spread.

Clearly, the onus of highlighting fake news was shifted to users with Facebook requesting users to report spam. And despite later updates, the site continues to rely heavily on users reporting content as fake or unacceptable. As a result Facebook users continue to fall prey to spam, staying unaware of the steps to report or the measures that can be taken against fake news. The problem seems to have exacerbated in recent times with multiple UK users seeing spam adverts and hoax sponsored posts regarding the Queen s death. As opposed to traditional links in the Newsfeed, reporting an advert is much more complex process, one that confuses most users. ALSO READ: Facebook F8 2017 Developer Conference: Here s what to expect from the social media giant

Robert Harvey recently highlighted the issue through a tweet saying, Yesterday #Facebook were on the @BBCnews talking about their efforts on fake news. Today I had this in my sponsored links. Hypocrites. In its defense, Facebook shut down 30,000 fake accounts in France, especially with the upcoming elections raising concerns regarding security and spam affecting electoral campaigns, tampering with public sentiment. Facebook also mentioned its efforts to recognize fake accounts and take steps towards dealing with such inauthentic accounts with strict measures.

In the first week of April, Zuckerberg launched a new tool to aid users in spotting false stories. The feature rolled out to app users takes them through the process to report a fake story with ease. Facebook has tied up with First Draft and CUNY Graduate School of Journalism to guide users better. With the internet turning into a minefield for information, the steps to tackle spam and threats to user privacy must be firmly in place. With F8, Facebook needs to prioritize user demands over fancy features and perhaps revaluate their basics to provide more meaningful resources to users.

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  • Published Date: April 18, 2017 1:31 PM IST



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