Founder and CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, on Friday, November 19, 2016 said that the company would be exploring new ways of countering the misinformation being shared on its social sharing platform.
This follows criticisms that have trailed the role played by the social sharing platform in disseminating fake news during the presidential campaigns for the recently concluded US elections.
In a Facebook post, Mr. Zuckerberg acknowledged that, “It is technically and philosophically difficult to determine what is fake and what to do about it. We believe in giving people a voice, which means erring on the side of letting people share what they want whenever possible.”
In recent times, many observers have condemned the prevalence of made-up headlines on Facebook, one of which claims that the November 8 US elections was swayed, a clear distortion from the reality.
In response to this, Facebook has decided to take a number of steps to combat this spread of misinformation on its platform. The steps include:
- Stronger detection
Facebook says that the most important thing will be to improve its ability to classify misinformation. This means better technical systems to detect what people will flag as false before they do it themselves.
- Easy reporting
Facebook believes that making it much easier for people to report stories as fake will help it catch more misinformation faster.
- Third party verification
Facebook plans to reach out to more fact checking organizations.
Facebook is exploring the option of labeling stories that have been flagged as false by third parties on its community, and showing warnings when people read or share them.
- Related articles quality
Facebook is also raising the bar for stories that appear in related articles under links in News Feed.
- Disrupting fake news economics
Since a lot of misinformation is driven by financially motivated spam, Facebook is looking at disrupting the economics with ads policies and better ad farm detection.
Facebook will continue to work with journalists and others in the news industry, in other to get their input, better understand their fact checking systems and learn from them.
Last week, the company also stated that it would stop serving ads to sites that could be misleading or deceptive.
Following this new stand by Facebook, it is incumbent on brands and businesses to be conscious of what they share with their consumers, as such consumers now have the right to report stories they think is false, necessitating sanctions by Facebook. No doubt, this will have an effect on brands found wanting.