Sunday, August 19, 2018
Europe

Facebook scraps fake news warning flags

Facebook will no longer display red warning icons next to fake news stories shared on the platform after research indicated the symbols were having the opposite effect.

"Academic research on correcting misinformation has shown that putting a strong image, like a red flag, next to an article may actually entrench deeply held beliefs," Facebook product manager Tessa Lyons said in news post.

Instead, Facebook will now display what it calls "fact-checked articles" next to disputed stories.

The related articles, introduced in April, appear in someone's news feed after they have read a "disputed" article.

In the case of fake news, the related articles aim to provide additional perspectives and information, including articles by third-party fact checkers.

"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," Ms Lyons said.

Demoting fake news

Through the use of fact checkers, Facebook currently demotes fake news, which it says leads to an 80 per cent decrease in the post's traffic.

Domains that repeatedly published fake news have their ability to advertise removed, distribution reduced and restrictions placed on their opportunity to make money.

On average, it takes fact checkers three days to verify an article. Meaning fake news can be shared widely well before any warnings appear.

Facebook says it is working to improve this.

'Should be regulated like any other media'

Ms Lyon said fake news undermined Facebook's value as a platform to connect with family and friends.

While Facebook identifies as an online community, critics said it should be recognised as a publisher and regulated as such.

"What Facebook is trying to do is respond to pressure that it should be treated as a publisher, rather than a platform," University of Kent journalism professor Tim Luckhurst told the BBC.

"I think that argument is dead. They are a publisher, so it is not enough to offer people a menu of other related stories."

"We have a generation of people that are so anti-establishment and sceptical of evidence-based news, we need regulation of the type imposed on broadcasters since they first emerged."

ABC/BBC

Original Article

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