Facebook has long been under fire for helping to spread fake news, but the amount of fake content was never more apparent than during the election. As a result, Facebook and other companies like Google, have been singled out for not doing more to prevent users from reading and spreading bogus news. Mark Zuckerberg recently responded to the criticism and discussed Facebook’s plans to clean up the news feed.
“The problems here are complex, both technically and philosophically,” Zuckerberg said in a recent blog post. “We believe in giving people a voice, which means erring on the side of letting people share what they want whenever possible. We need to be careful not to discourage sharing of opinions or to mistakenly restrict accurate content. We do not want to be arbiters of truth ourselves, but instead rely on our community and trusted third parties.”
This is still very much the problem that Facebook faced during the election, however. Sometimes the users don’t know when news is fake or not, and it spreads faster than anyone can shut it down. Facebook already has tools in place for users to report misinformation, but Zuckerberg said he’s going to make it even easier in the future. He’s also going to beef up Facebook’s ability to use its own systems to detect news so that it can “detect what people will flag as false before they do it themselves.”
Zuckerberg explained Facebook plans to tap additional fact-checking organizations that can verify news stories floating around the social network. “While we have reached out to some, we plan to learn from many more,” the CEO said.
Facebook to implement new tools to prevent fake news
Facebook will also work to add warnings to stories that have already been “flagged as false by third parties or our community,” so that readers will either avoid them entirely or know to approach the story with a skeptical state of mind. The hardest part will be making sure the real news doesn’t get filtered out with the new tools, especially if it’s news users don’t necessarily like, and ultimately flag it as fake. Finally, Zuckerberg said he’s going to improve the stories that Facebook recommends users read in the “related articles” section.
All of this is a start. Facebook knew what kind of power it yielded before the elections and, arguably, should have been more prepared to fix the problems as they happened. In fact, we know that the social network already had some tools to prevent fake news. If Facebook ever wants to be taken seriously as a large provider of reliable content, it’s going to have to make sure these new plans work. Otherwise, the company’s news sections should be scrapped altogether.