Trustworthy scores explained
CAN WHAT YOU SAY ONLINE REALLY BE TRUSTED? FACEBOOK, FOR ONE, IS ATTEMPTING TO FIND OUT.
FAKE NEWS CONTINUES to be big news, but recent revelations from the offices of Facebook suggest that the social network – which has, more than any other, fallen victim to the effects of fabricated or biased reporting – has been working on reducing the amount you see. For more than a year, Facebook has been developing a so-called ‘trustworthiness score’, which it now applies to certain users to determine whether or not their actions are honourable.
Facebook hasn’t said how the score is determined, and refutes suggestions that the tool could be used as a social rating system, though its lack of transparency does raise questions. The point is that, as a user, you won’t see the results of it. And like Facebook’s existing (and frankly baffling) algorithm, it could lead to posts being hidden and jumbled around. If the trustworthiness score is used on your account, will you know? If your friends’ status updates suddenly disappear from your homepage, will you notice? Could Facebook inadvertently – or, indeed, deliberately – use this to tear friend groups apart, or to squash businesses that rely on their Facebook pages to stay afloat?
The answer, as far as we have been able to determine, is ‘not right now’. At press time, the score is only fed to Facebook’s internal misinformation team for further investigation, primarily to determine if true news is being falsely flagged as fake in order to game the system, and to identify those users doing so. Since 2016, Facebook has been working with external companies to investigate the legitimacy of flagged posts, and this isn’t likely to change. It’s also not the first time a social network has hidden a rating system below the surface – in 2010, Twitter employed a similar metric to rank users, in order to aid the company in recommending new users to follow.
There is still a human element, too. Unless someone in Facebook’s offices starts getting very malicious, the trustworthiness score should only affect those who aren’t trustworthy: report fake news legitimately, and you’ll get a high score, giving more weight to your reporting in the future.