Facebook had tool to weed out fake news

Kuwait Times - - TECHNOLOGY -

Facebook had a tool to weed out fake news cir­cu­lat­ing on the so­cial net­work this year but de­clined to de­ploy it for fear of of­fend­ing con­ser­va­tives, a re­port said Mon­day.

The re­port by the on­line news site Giz­modo comes with Facebook un­der fire for al­low­ing hoaxes and mis­in­for­ma­tion to go vi­ral an­dac­cord­ing to some crit­ics-boost the ef­forts of Repub­li­can Don­ald Trump in his suc­cess­ful pres­i­den­tial run.

Facebook de­nied the re­port. Giz­modo, cit­ing un­named sources said to be knowl­edge­able about Facebook’s de­ci­sion-mak­ing, said the tool was shelved af­ter a controversy over re­ports say­ing the so­cial net­work sup­pressed some con­ser­va­tive voices in its “trend­ing top­ics” ear­lier this year. “They ab­so­lutely have the tools to shut down fake news,” Giz­modo quoted one source as say­ing. “There was a lot of fear about up­set­ting con­ser­va­tives af­ter (the up­roar over) trend­ing top­ics.”

A Facebook state­ment said that the claims made in the ar­ti­cle were “not true.” “We did not build and with­hold any News Feed changes based on their po­ten­tial im­pact on any one po­lit­i­cal party,” the state­ment from Facebook said. “We al­ways work to make News Feed more mean­ing­ful and in­for­ma­tive, and that in­cludes ex­am­in­ing the qual­ity and ac­cu­racy of items shared, such as click­bait, spam and hoaxes.” Facebook chief Mark Zucker­berg has re­jected the idea that bo­gus sto­ries shared at the so­cial net­work paved a path of vic­tory for Trump. “The idea that fake news on Facebook, which is a very small amount of the con­tent, in­flu­enced the elec­tion in any way I think is a pretty crazy idea,” Zucker­berg said dur­ing an on-stage chat at Tech­non­omy, a tech­nol­ogy trends con­fer­ence in Cal­i­for­nia. In a week­end post­ing, Zucker­berg said deal­ing with hoaxes and fake news is com­plex. “This is an area where I be­lieve we must pro­ceed very care­fully,” he said. “Iden­ti­fy­ing the ‘truth’ is com­pli­cated. While some hoaxes can be com­pletely de­bunked, a greater amount of con­tent, in­clud­ing from main­stream sources, of­ten gets the ba­sic idea right but some de­tails wrong or omit­ted.” — AFP

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