Facebook took various steps on Tuesday to curb the spread of fake news on its platform.
That included introducing new tools to help US users obtain greater context about news stories shared on their feed, by learning more about the article’s publisher, author and other stories posted by the news organization.
The moves come as Facebook continues to grapple with how its site was used as a tool to manipulate the 2016 presidential election.
Facebook introduced new tools to help users obtain greater context about stories shared on their feed, by learning about the publisher, author and other stories posted by the site
Starting Tuesday, Facebook said it’s rolling out a series of new tools to help users verify news articles that are shared on their dashboard.
US users can now view more context about an article by viewing the publisher’s Wikipedia page and read related articles on the same topic as part of a tool it’s calling ‘More From This Publisher’.
Facebook is also rolling out a ‘Shared By Friends’ feature, which shows how many times the article has been shared on the site, as well as another tool that gives users the option to follow the publisher’s Facebook page.
The firm will note if the publisher doesn’t have a Wikipedia page.
Some of these new features were first trialed among select users as part of a test last October.
As part of the test, Facebook was trying to help users discover and share news from more trustworthy sources.
Facebook on Tuesday rolled out a slew of new features to help users decipher whether a news article shared on their feed is trustworthy, including one called ‘More From This Publisher’
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (pictured) has pledged to double down on the spread of fake news on the platform, saying that providing users with trustworthy news is a big priority
‘We’re now rolling out this feature to everyone in the US and adding additional features to provide more context for people so they can decide for themselves what to read, trust and share,’ Facebook wrote in blog post.
Alongside these new features, Facebook is also conducting a ‘small test’ to see whether the story’s author impacts its credibility.
People who participate in the test can tap on an author’s name in Instant Articles, it’s quick-loading news platform, to see more information.
This includes a description of the author’s Wikipedia page, the option to follow the author’s page or profile and other recent articles they’ve written.
Last week, Facebook introduced new tools that ‘fact-check’ photos and videos on the platform.
The fact-checking on fake news began on Wednesday in France with assistance from the news organization AFP.
It will soon expand to more countries and partners, Tessa Lyons, a product manager at Facebook, said in a briefing with reporters.
Lyons did not say what criteria Facebook or AFP would use to evaluate photos and videos, or how much a photo could be edited or doctored before it is ruled fake.
Over the past year, Facebook has been reevaluating how news is shared on its platform, from promoting more posts from family and friends, to prioritizing news from local publishers.
Also on Tuesday, Facebook announced that it had shut down hundreds of accounts and pages linked to Russian troll factory the Internet Research Agency
HOW MANY AMERICANS SAW RUSSIA’S DIVISIVE ADS DURING THE 2016 US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION?
Facebook says ads that ran on the company’s social media platform and have been linked to a Russian internet agency were seen by an estimated 10 million people before and after the 2016 US presidential election.
The company turned 3,000 ads over to three congressional committees in October 2017 as part of their investigations into Russian influence in the 2016 election.
In a company blog post, Facebook’s Elliot Schrage said the ads appeared to focus on divisive social and political messages, including LGBT issues, immigration and gun rights.
In many cases, the ads encouraged people to follow pages on those issues.
Facebook said last month that the ads appear to have come from accounts associated with a Russian entity called the Internet Research Agency.
Fewer than half of the ads – which ran between 2015 and 2017 – were seen before the election, with 56 percent of them seen after the election.
The firm also recently axed its plan to split the News Feed into one side for posts from family and friends and posts from pages in another.
In a separate move on Tuesday, the firm said it removed 70 Facebook accounts, 138 Pages and 65 Instagram accounts associated with the IRA, noting that 95% of the pages and accounts were targeting people who live in Russia.
In an unusually transparent move, Facebook also gave some specific data on how many people may have been reached by the Pages.
Just over 1 million users followed at least one of the Facebook pages, the social media giant explained.
WHAT HAS FACEBOOK DONE TO TACKLE FAKE NEWS?
In 2016, following the shock November 2016 US election results, Mark Zuckerberg claimed: ‘Of all the content on Facebook, more than 99 per cent of what people see is authentic’.
He also cautioned that the company should not rush into fact-checking.
But Zuckerberg soon came under fire after it emerged fake news had helped sway the election results.
In response, the company rolled out a ‘Disputed’ flagging system that it announced in a December 2016 post.
The system meant users were responsible for flagging items that they believed were fake, rather than the company.
In April 2017, Facebook suggested the system had been a success.
It said that ‘overall false news has decreased on Facebook’ – but did not provide any proof.
‘It’s hard for us to measure because we can’t read everything that gets posted’, it said.
But it soon emerged that Facebook was not providing the full story.
In July 2017, Oxford researchers found that ‘computational propaganda is one of the most powerful tools against democracy,’ and Facebook was playing a major role in spreading fake news.
In response, Facebook said it would ban pages that post hoax stories from being allowed to advertise in August 2017.
In September, Facebook finally admitted during congressional questioning that a Russian propaganda mill had placed adverts on Facebook to sway voters around the 2016 campaign.
In December 2017, Facebook admitted that its flagging system for fake news was a failure.
Since then, it has used third-party fact-checkers to identify hoaxes, and then given such stories less prominence in the Facebook News Feed when people share links to them.
In January, Zuckerberg said Facebook would prioritise ‘trustworthy’ news by using member surveys to identify high-quality outlets.
Facebook has now quietly begun ‘fact-checking’ photos and videos to reduce fake news stories. However, the details of how it is doing this remain unclear.