Facebook to enable users to flag fake news

By Jay Jay

Facebook is introducing a new feature that aims to reduce the spread of news posts on its website that are flagged by users as false or hoax.

At the same time, the social media giant will continue to be a platform for users to post updates and not decide what posts should go on the website like a publisher.

Nowadays, Facebook is riddled with curious posts and updates that range from little fantasies to some being totally outrageous. Updates offering a glimpse of aliens to huge cash prizes on a single click most often lead to malware websites that left most users red-faced. Thanks to the an existing feature, users can flag stories and posts as 'false news story'.

This data will be added in Facebook's news feed algorithm which will determine which posts will be displayed on users' news feeds. Announcing the new feature on a blog post, Facebook's software engineer Erich Owens and research scientist Udi Weinsberg said, “We’ve heard from people that they want to see fewer stories that are hoaxes, or misleading news. Today’s update to News Feed reduces the distribution of posts that people have reported as hoaxes and adds an annotation to posts that have received many of these types of reports to warn others on Facebook.” 

From now on, fake news feeds and hoaxes will carry a tag that reads “Many people on Facebook have reported that this story contains false information” when they appear on users' feeds. Satirical websites, though, need not fear the new update.

The blog notes that “we’ve found from testing that people tend not to report satirical content intended to be humorous, or content that is clearly labeled as satire”. Facebook has, however, stopped short of banning or selectively purging posts that it interprets as false.

Warning users' of a particular post's nature or content seems enough for the time being. Determination of a story's accuracy isn't its forte yet.

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