Facebook adds disputed tag for untruthful articles
March 15, 2017
Filed under STEM
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Facebook implemented a tag last week which marks articles as disputed by third party fact checkers after controversy surrounding the spread of fake news on its website.
According to Facebook, the third party fact-checkers include PolitiFact, Snopes and the Associated Press, but Facebook withheld its exact selection process for fact-checkers. Facebook has stated that fact-checkers need to follow Poynter’s code of principles for fact-verification, a set of rules for fact verification compiled by the Poynter Institute, a nonprofit journalism school based in St. Petersburg, Florida.
The list include principles such as a commitment to nonpartisanship, fairness, transparency of sources and honest corrections.
The disputed news tag is a continuation of Facebook’s fight to improve news content on its site. In December of last year, Facebook made reporting an article easier, and in January this year, it added new factors into its priority ranking system, such as whether a page asked for likes or posted spam.
“It’s definitely a step in the right direction,” Kevin Xu (11), a regular Facebook user, said. “I’m not sure about the practicalities of the program though. The third-party websites could be politically motivated or maybe fake news articles will go unreported.”
CEO Mark Zuckerberg first mentioned the idea of third party verification in a post uploaded on Facebook in November. The company previously relied on user submitted reports and the manual fact-checking of posts by employees to recognize and penalize fake news articles by lowering their priority on news feeds. Though user reports are still the driving force behind third party verification, reported posts can now be publically tagged as questionable instead of just appearing less on feeds.
Users can click on the flagged posts to see explanations on why a third party fact-checker questioned the veracity of an article.
“Not many people have a Facebook account, so there is no point having it,” Mahi Kolla (9) said. “When I do get a Facebook account, knowing that those articles are flagged is assuring as fake news wouldn’t be able to change my perception of the world.”
Accused in May of last year of altering its news feed algorithm to censor conservative outlets, Facebook automated its news feed in an attempt to remove human bias.
In an announcement in November of last year, Facebook said that it will try to improve the quality of related articles in its new feeds and continue to listen to journalists and others in the news industry to combat fake news.