Facebook has inadvertently spread false reports of a major explosion in Bangkok after activating its safety check feature, which allows users to mark themselves as safe in the event of a disaster or crisis.
Prompted by - what Facebook has since called - a one-man protest near the prime minister’s office, the incident is the latest to show up the social media giant’s inability to distinguish real news stories from fake ones.
Sharing local media reports of a man protesting and throwing ‘giant firecrackers’ at Government House, Facebook caused confusion by linking the safety check feature to a false report of a major ‘explosion’ from BangkokInformer.com. However, the article included a link to a BBC video from 17 August 2015 about the bombing of the Erawan Shrine.
Attempting to clarify the situation local English-language news paper, Khaosod English, affirmed there was “not a massive explosion [in] Bangkok on Tuesday night.”
Facebook has defended activating the safety check releasing a statement reading: “As with all safety check activations, Facebook relies on a trusted third party to first confirm the incident and then on the community to use the tool and share with friends and family.”
The false BangkokInformer.com story, however, remains top of search results for ‘Thailand explosion’ as it has not yet been flagged as a fake news story by the social media platform’s independent fact checkers.