Avoid­ing be­ing Fake­book

Face­book al­lows users to flag ques­tion­able sto­ries, videos

The Denver Post - - BUSINESS - By Mark Bergen

Face­book is chang­ing its pow­er­ful news feed in an ef­fort to stamp out fake sto­ries fol­low­ing a firestorm around the so­cial net­work’s role in spread­ing false in­for­ma­tion.

The new fea­tures, rolled out to se­lect U.S. users on Thurs­day, add op­tions for read­ers and third-party fact check­ers to flag ar­ti­cles, tweak Face­book’s al­go­rithm and pro­vide more re­stric­tions on ad­ver­tis­ing.

A month ago, Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer Mark Zucker­berg said these changes were com­ing, re­spond­ing to ex­ten­sive crit­i­cism in the wake of the U.S. pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

The is­sue has only grown more heated since. A Pew Re­search Cen­ter sur­vey, re­leased on Thurs­day, re­vealed that al­most onequar­ter of Amer­i­cans be­lieved they shared fake news and a greater per­cent­age were con­cerned about its con­se­quences.

Still, Face­book framed its moves care­fully, show­ing its aver­sion to be­ing seen as tak­ing an editorial or po­lit­i­cal stance. “Fake news means dif­fer­ent things to dif­fer­ent peo­ple,” said Adam Mosseri, Face­book’s vice pres­i­dent of prod­uct man­age­ment. “What we’re fo­cused on is the worst of the worst. We’re not look­ing to get into the gray area of opin­ion.”

Two of the in­com­ing changes are very vis­i­ble. Face­book users will be able to flag con­tent on the site as a “fake news story.” Ar­ti­cles deemed false by Face­book’s part­ner, Poyn­ter In­sti­tute’s In­ter­na­tional Fact Check­ing Net­work, will have a new tag at­tached: “Dis­puted by 3rd Party Fact-Check­ers.” Pub­lish­ers be­hind these ar­ti­cles will no longer be able to pro­mote these ar­ti­cles as Face­book paid ads.

But Face­book isn’t scrub­bing these ar­ti­cles from its site al­to­gether. “If some­thing is been dis­puted, we’re go­ing to let you know,” Mosseri said. “But you can still share it be­cause we be­lieve in giv­ing peo­ple a voice.”

Face­book also said it’s tak­ing steps to snip fi­nan­cial in­cen­tives for pub­lish­ers of fake news. It plans to cut off pro­duc­ers of con­tent from hoax do­mains from buy­ing on its ad net­works.

Mosseri noted that the ad­just­ments are al­go­rith­mic and won’t rely on ed­i­tors em­ployed by Face­book. He also dis­missed the like­li­hood that users would take ad­van­tage of the new fea­tures to bom­bard ar­ti­cles or pub­li­ca­tions they dis­agree with, rather than those sto­ries they find bla­tantly false.

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