Amid allegations that fake news stories had an impact on the US Presidential election, Facebook has announced they’re taking action. According to a statement released this week, the social media network is taking steps to only show relevant, real stories to users.
Fake stories have been a part of the site for a long time, especially since it’s not hard to make money with a blog these days. But they made headlines recently during the 2016 election when some people argued that made up stories actually helped Donald Trump win the election. Mark Zuckerberg called that allegation “crazy”, but the company is still taking steps to weed out fantasy.
What’s the plan? Facebook is implementing “signals” to shows that content is real, plus a real time prediction algorithm that weeds out fake stories faster.
“We categorized pages to identify whether or not they were posting spam or trying to game feed by doing things like asking for likes, comments or shares,”a Facebook research scientists wrote. “We then used posts from these Pages to train a model that continuously identifies whether posts from other Pages are likely to be authentic.” He went on to explain that if a particular post from a page is often being hidden, that may be an indication it’s not real. Posts that are determined to be authentic will show up higher in the news feed.
Notorious whistleblower Edward Snowden argued this could potentially lead to Facebook censoring controversial content, and isn’t necessarily a fan of “refereeing” content. But the truth is that Facebook is the primary news source for many people, so it’s important they see the truth.
Just last week, Facebook introduced a new “publisher” headline beneath trending topics. Unrecognized publishers of course, are more likely to be flagged as false. But if several reliable publishers share the same story, it’s flagged as authentic. News events will be covered by more than one outlet, Facebook said, so if a story is published from only one outlet, it’s not likely to be seen.
Facebook has also announced plans to make it easier to flag fake stories, and will be adding human fact checkers to vet stories.