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Facebook introduces ‘disputed’ label for fake news stories

Facebook has finally begun rolling out a ‘disputed’ tag with which to label fake news stories amidst immense pressure to act over the propagation of fabricated stories and misinformation on the service.

The belated effort will see suspect stories flagged by an exclamation mark warning sign alongside a message indicating that its contents have been disputed by fact checking websites.

Such measures have already been dismissed as too little, too late however with commentators observing that Facebook is still refusing to admit stories are completely false, merely stating that they are ‘disputed’, sowing ongoing confusion amongst social media users.

Further criticism has been levelled at the convoluted process by which stories are labelled as ‘disputed’ in the first place with contested stories having to be first brought to Facebook’s attention by concerned users or its own software.

These are then flagged up to third party fact-checkers such as Snopes and Politifact to assess, with the disputed label being applied only if two or more fact checkers agree.

This is unlikely to silence Facebook’s many critics however as the system is clearly unable to respond in real-time to contentious material, frustrating those who want to dee Facebook take a more active role to root out such content of its own accord rather than rely upon the goodwill of others.

Studies have shown that as few as four per cent of people can reliably distinguish fake news from the truth.

Google meanwhile has doubled down on its own fake news purge by rolling out its 'fact check' label internationally.