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Facebook to begin flagging fake news

Disputed articles shared on Facebook will be marked with the help of users and outside fact-checkers 

16 December 2016, 8:11am
Facebook is said to be working with five fact-checking organisations to launch the initiative
Facebook is said to be working with five fact-checking organisations to launch the initiative
Facebook will begin flagging fake news stories with the help of users and outside fact checkers, the company announced on Thursday, responding to a torrent of criticism over fake news during the US election.

According to the Guardian newspaper, readers will be able to alert Facebook to possible fake news stories, which the social media site will then send to outside fact-checking organisations to verify.

Facebook is said to be working with five fact-checking organisations – ABC News, AP, FactCheck.org, Politifact and Snopes – to launch the initiative. If Facebook receives enough report from users that a story is fake, the social network will pass it onto these third parties to scrutinise.

If a story is deemed to fail the fact check, it will be publicly flagged as “disputed by 3rd party fact-checkers” whenever it appears on the social network. Users will be able to click on a link to understand why it’s disputed. If a Facebook user then still want to share the story, they’ll get another warning about its reliability.

Disputed stories also may appear lower in the newsfeed, Facebook said.

“It’s important to us that the stories you see on Facebook are authentic and meaningful,” Facebook said in statement.

The fact-checking organisations will reportedly not be paid to provide this service.

Another change being rolled out identifies stories that are being shared more by people who have only read the headline than by people who have actually clicked on them and read the text. “We’ve found that if reading an article makes people significantly less likely to share it, that may be a sign that a story has misled people in some way,” the company said.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg recognises the importance of Facebook in the spreading of information
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg recognises the importance of Facebook in the spreading of information
Facebook is also attempting to reduce the financial incentives to create fake news websites, by making it harder to spoof existing legitimate domains.

In a post on his own Facebook page announcing the changes, founder Mark Zuckerberg admitted the business has a “greater responsibility” to the public than just being a tech company.

“While we don’t write the news stories you read and share, we also recognize 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,” he wrote.

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