In a bid to combat the spread of fake news, Facebook has rolled out a new tool that alerts users about posts which are disputed or contain misinformation. The third-party fact-checking tool has been built in partnership with independent fact-checkers. Also Read - Facebook smartwatch to feature cameras alongside fitness functions: Yes, detachable cameras!Also Read - What happens to your Facebook account after you die?
The tool was first observed when users tried sharing a particular story that falsely claimed hundreds and thousands of Irish people were brought to the US as slaves. The story, titled “The Irish slave trade the slaves that time forgot”, was published by the Rhode Island entertainment blog Newport Buzz and was shared on Facebook in the lead-up to St Patrick s Day on 17 March. Also Read - WhatsApp Multi-device support confirmed, public beta rollout begins in two months: Mark Zuckerberg
However, following the roll-out of the feature, users in some regions are seeing a red alert that indicates ‘disputed by Snopes.com and Associated Press’. If users try to hit publish, the new tool again prompts them about the falsehood of the article and suggests them to either go to the fact-checkers’ page to figure out why it is disputed or go to Facebook’s help page for more details on disputed content. Users have the choice to ‘publish anyway’ but if the content it disputed, it will show with the alert on others timelines. It is to be noted that the tool is currently being rolled out in a phased manner, and may not be available immediately in all regions.
Interestingly, only those independent fact-checkers are shown that have signed up to Poynter’s non-partisan code of principles. As The Guardian explains, the Poynter code promotes excellence in non-partisan and transparent fact-checking for journalism. Facebook had announced in December that it will be partnering with five such independent fact checkers including ABC News, AP, FactCheck.org, Politifact, and Snopes. ALSO READ: Facebook fake news: If Wikipedia is democratic, so is Facebook
It is worth mentioning that this new tool is in addition to the existing checks and measures in place, which allow users to report content as fake based on their knowledge and expertise. However, as it is difficult to gauge if a content is false or merely someone else’s differing opinion on a particular subject; these reporting tools need majority of users to label a particular content as fake. If there are a number of Facebook users who report a story as fake, it will then be sent to these independent fact checkers for scrutiny.
Facebook’s efforts to curb the spread of fake news on its platform come in light of allegations during the US elections when multiple stories which carried false information on the candidates were circulated on the platform alongside some genuine news reports. It is worth noting that Facebook’s core mission is to help connect people through its platform and it is only after users made it the ‘Facebook Walls’ as ‘News Feed’ that the social networking site became a hub for sharing of news stories as well.
And as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said in his December post, “I think of Facebook as a technology company but I recognize we have a greater responsibility than just building technology that information flows through.” He further added that Facebook is more than just a distributor of news.