Facebook details fake news battle plan

Facebook has outlined its strategy to fight fake news and ensure stories on the platform are “authentic and meaningful”.

“We believe in giving people a voice…so we’re approaching this problem carefully,” wrote Adam Mosseri, vice president of News Feed, in a blog post. “We’ve focused our efforts on the worst of the worst, on the clear hoaxes spread by spammers for their own gain and on engaging both our community and third party organizations.”

Facebook also noted these are just initial steps and the platform will learn, iterate and extend the plan over time.

First, Facebook said it is testing multiple ways to make it easier for users to report hoaxes – including by simply clicking the upper right-hand corner of a post.

Next, Facebook said it has started working with third-party fact-checking organizations that are members of a respected journalism industry organization, the International Fact-Checking Network, which is hosted by non-profit journalism school Poynter.

Per Poynter, this will allow verified fact checkers in the US to review stories on Facebook to determine if they are true or false. And, if enough fact checkers mark a story as the latter, it will be reflected as such in users’ News Feeds.

Facebook also said stories that have been disputed may appear lower in News Feeds. And once a story has been flagged, it can’t be made into an ad and promoted.

“The International Fact-Checking Network is one of several voices that advocated for Facebook to do something about the visibility of entirely fabricated news designed to fool users into believing them. Last month, 20 fact-checking initiatives wrote an open letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg asking him to cast a wide net in seeking solutions to the problem,” Poynter wrote in a blog post. “It is commendable that the company has chosen to address this challenge, even if only in the United States for now.”

(Poynter also said it is rethinking its application and compliance process for the fact-checking program as a result of the Facebook news.)

In addition, Facebook said it has found one sign a story has misled readers: if reading it makes them less likely to share it.

“We’re going to test incorporating this signal into ranking, specifically for articles that are outliers, where people who read the article are significantly less likely to share it,” the platform added.

Finally, Facebook said it is seeking to squash the financial motivation behind fake news by eliminating the ability to spoof domains and by analyzing publisher sites to “detect where policy enforcement actions might be necessary.”

“It’s important to us that the stories you see on Facebook are authentic and meaningful. We’re excited about this progress, but we know there’s more to be done,” the platform said. “We’re going to keep working on this problem for as long as it takes to get it right.”

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Lisa Lacy

Lisa Lacy is a senior reporter for The Drum, covering digital and search marketing. Based in New York, she writes about how brands use technology to connect with consumers, particularly as innovations like voice search, digital assistants and the Internet of Things change consumers’ lives forever – not to mention the data these platforms increasingly collect and the security and privacy issues therein. She is a graduate of Columbia's School of Journalism. Her bucket list includes riding in the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile.

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