Facebook on Thursday outlined some of the first steps it's taking to fight fake news on the platform, which some believe swayed the US presidential election.
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As Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg teased last month, the social network is now testing several ways to make it easier to report hoaxes you see in your feed. Facebook is also now working with third-party fact-checking organizations to flag fake news.
Now, when you go to report a post (by clicking the upper right-hand corner) there's a new option for "It's a fake news story," alongside the existing options: "It's annoying or not interesting," "I think it shouldn't be on Facebook," and "It's spam."
"We'll use the reports from our community, along with other signals, to send stories to these [fact checking] organizations," Facebook's New Feed Vice President Adam Mosseri explained in a blog post. "If the fact checking organizations identify a story as fake, it will get flagged as disputed and there will be a link to the corresponding article explaining why."
Stories identified as fake news may show up lower in people's feed and with a warning. Facebook is still letting people share fake news, but will warn them that the story was "disputed by 3rd party fact-checkers." Flagged stories can no longer be turned into ads or promoted.
On top of that, Facebook is starting to take into account whether reading a story makes people "significantly less likely to share it" — a signal that the story may have misled people. If that's the case, stories may be ranked lower in people's News Feeds.
Finally, Facebook is doing several things to disrupt financial incentives for spammers.
"Spammers make money by masquerading as well-known news organizations, and posting hoaxes that get people to visit to their sites, which are often mostly ads," Mosseri wrote. "On the buying side we've eliminated the ability to spoof domains, which will reduce the prevalence of sites that pretend to be real publications. On the publisher side, we are analyzing publisher sites to detect where policy enforcement actions might be necessary."
The effort comes after President Obama last month singled out fake news stories appearing on social media sites as a serious problem facing American democracy. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has repeatedly denied that the spread of misinformation on his social network influenced the election.