Fake news on Facebook has been a problem for the company for quite a long time now. But a new series is trying to open up about what the team at Facebook is doing to counter it. Facebook published the “Hunt for False News” blog post today. Antonia Woodford, product manager at Facebook, is the author of the post. It investigates three false stories that were circulated on Facebook before being proven false. Two of the stories were caught with the help of third-party fact-checkers. But the third story completely flew under the radar. The series of posts claims to be trying to be more transparent with users about Facebook’s methods of dealing with fake news. Long time coming, this seems essential as the general public believes Facebook is doing nothing to counter fake news.
Each story Woodford addresses in the blog post is unique in its own way. She discloses how certain methods of sharing posts are being used to spread misinformation. She also stated that just because a story is proven false doesn’t mean it will be removed from the platform. Woodford wrote that after verification Facebook’s team would “reduce its distribution in News Feed.” In my personal opinion this seems lackluster, because what is the point of identifying fake news if people can still read and believe it?
Fake News 1 :
The first story, for example, is a video of a man wearing a headscarf who seems to be spitting on a woman. The video is not fake in itself but the caption used is extremely misleading. The caption states, “Man from Saudi spits in the face of the poor receptionist at a Hospital in London then attacks other staff”. This, in fact, never happened. Its just one of many other examples where some people are using fake and misleading captions to spread hateful messages.
Fake News 2 :
The second story also focuses on spreading incorrect or incomplete information. A photo was circulating of a man who was reported as being a prime suspect in an attack on a Brazilian politician. The story surrounding the photo turned out to be false. Facebook claims that they took action and demoted the image in the News Feed.
Fake News 3 :
The third story is what millennials would call, click-bait.Its not harmful by itself but it is still considered fake news. A story about NASA paying people $100,000 to spend sixty days in bed went viral in 2017. Facebook admits that it failed to catch it. The false claim went completely undiscovered before it was finally discovered to be fake in July 2018. Woodford addressed that Facebook is still learning how to combat fake news. They are combining third-party fact-checkers and machine learning algorithms to spot stories before they go viral or can inflict major harm.
Facebook needs to figure out a way to stop fake news from spreading on its platform, fast. The public’s trust in the company is decreasing rapidly especially after the recent legal tussle with Mark Zuckerberg. If they don’t do something soon, they might as well become irrelevant in today’s social media age.