Facebooks is on a warpath against fake news. The company has revealed new measures that it hopes will stop the spread of bogus reports.
The social networking site said key changes are up for immediate implementation with the aim that only accurate reports will reach Facebook users. In turn, the company is hoping that people will stop sharing "false news" and instead focus on engaging "meaningful conversation with friends or family."
For starters, Facebook said the Disputed Flags tool will cease to exist and its place the company will use Related Articles. The new approach is said to provide better context on a developing or trending story, which is more effective in combatting the dissemination of manufactured stories.
"Related Articles ... are simply designed to give more context, which our research has shown is a more effective way to help people get to the facts. Indeed, we've found that when we show Related Articles next to a false news story, it leads to fewer shares than when the Disputed Flag is shown," Tessa Lyons, product manager for Facebook, wrote in a blog post.
In contrast, when using red flags on perceived erroneous reports, Facebook observed that the tactic "may actually entrench deeply held beliefs." More often, employing a strong image only generated further resentments or "the opposite effect to what we intended," as Lyons has characterized.
Better Understanding The Spread Of Fake News
Also, Facebook is taking the task to better understand the spread of misinformation. In a related post, the company has initially pinpointed the essential elements that will improve the effective use of Disputed Flag.
First, Facebook found that for people to accept a story is fake news, red flagging has to be directly supported by solid proofs. It's important as well to use neutral language when disputing a story as hostile words only lead to deeper disagreements. Oftentimes, red flagging only reinforce beliefs that leave no room for a meaningful dialogue.
Lastly, Facebook's internal research underscored the intricacies of fact-checking, which came to light when on several occasions credible organizations have arrived at conflicting conclusions on a scrutinized report. In this, the company seems to acknowledge that the Disputed Flag somehow fell short of its intended designs.
Avoiding Repeat Of 2016 Episode
Facebook increasing on its efforts to stamp out fake news on the site's News Feed appears to indicate the company's resolve not to repeat what happened in 2016. Critics have claimed Facebook was slow to crack down on bogus stories that were circulated through the site during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Many decried Facebook's failure led to some quarters effectively influencing the outcome of the poll.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, however, dismissed the criticisms as senseless suggestions. Eventually, Zuckerberg instigated the introduction of new site features that made it easier for users to spot and report fake news but stopped short of admitting his company's shortcomings.