It happens to the best of us. You see some crazy unbelievable piece of news pop up on Facebook and quickly pass it along with a “Like” or share, only to realize later that the entire thing was a hoax meant to rake in traffic. Now, Facebook is finally fighting back with a News Feed update designed to expose these fake news websites.
Facebook says it won’t actually scrape hoaxes from its own site. Instead, it’s crowd-sourcing the work to us. If you see a fake news post that’s clearly designed to trick readers you can report it as false. Once enough people flag a specific story, it will get a little annotation up top warning you that it might be a hoax. Hopefully that will stop people from passing along fake articles.
Putting this power in the hands of the people could be problematic. What if someone simply disagrees with an article on a heated topic like politics? A post from The New York Times could potentially get flagged as a hoax. That seems unlikely, but we’ll have to wait and see how Facebook’s new strategy works out.
As for fans of The Onion and other satire sites, Facebook says not to worry. As long as it’s clear that an article is meant to be a joke it shouldn’t have any issues.