Facebook starts flagging fake news stories

Facebook starts flagging as 'disputed' news stories in the US that have been debunked as false by fact-checking organisations 

5 March 2017, 10:12am
Facebook has launched its much-anticipated crackdown on fake news in the United States, tagging as “disputed” stories that are deemed false by fact-checking organisations.

On its help centre page, the social media giant has added a question “How is news marked as disputed on Facebook?”.

“You may see that certain news stories are marked as disputed on Facebook. News stories that are reported as fake by people on Facebook may be reviewed by independent third-party fact-checkers,” the section reads. “These fact-checkers will be signatories of the non-partisan Poynter Code of Principles. A story may be marked as disputed if these fact-checkers find the story to be fake.”

The feature is not yet available to everyone.

Facebook in December 2016 announced that it would start labeling and burying fake news. To this end, it teamed up with a host of media organisations that form part of an international non-partisan fact-checking network led by journalism non-profit Poynter. The list includes 42 organisations, but Facebook will initially rely on four: Snopes, Factcheck.org, ABC News, and Politifact.

The issue of fake news being distributed on Facebook gained prominence during last year’s US election. Notably, false conspiracy theories spread, including Hillary Clinton and others connected to her campaign of running a child sex ring out of a Washington DC pizza parlor.

Clinton and Barack Obama both spoke out about the problem, with the former President accusing Facebook of creating a “dust cloud of nonsense” by allowing crazy theories to spread and Clinton describing the spread of false news as an “epidemic” after the election.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was initially dismissive of such accusations, and said it was “pretty crazy” to suggest that fake news on Facebook could have swayed the election results.

However, he later changed his tune and in December said: “I recognize we have a greater responsibility than just building technology that information flows through.”

Since the issue of fake news gained national attention, President Donald Trump has adopted the phrase and incorporated it into his criticisms of the media