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. Antonia Woodford, product manager at Facebook, published the first “Hunt for False News” blog post today. The post examines three false stories that circulated on the site before they were debunked. Two of the stories were caught by Facebook and third-party fact-checkers, but the last story was completely missed. The series tries to be more transparent with users as to how Facebook is tackling fake news. This is crucial as the general public seems to think that Facebook is not taking enough steps to counter this epidemic.
Each story Woodford addresses in the blog post is slightly different. She acknowledges how certain methods of sharing posts are being used to spread misinformation. Just because a story is proved to be false doesn’t mean Facebook’s team stops it from being shared completely, though. Woodford wrote that after verification Facebook’s team would “reduce its distribution in News Feed.”
Fake News 1 :
The first story, for example, was a video of a man wearing a headscarf who appeared to spit on a woman. Although the video was real, a report confirmed it didn’t match the misleading attached caption. “Man from Saudi spits in the face of the poor receptionist at a Hospital in London then attacks other staff”, – this never happened. Hateful messages are being spread with the use of false captions
Fake News 2 :
The second story focused on a similar form of misinformation. A photo was spread of a man alleged to be the main suspect in an attack on a Brazilian politician. The story surrounding the photo turned out to be false and Facebook took action to demote the image in News Feed.
Fake News 3 :
The last story is far less harmful, but still demonstrates how misinformation can spread on Facebook. A viral story about NASA paying people $100,000 to spend six days in bed quickly circulated in 2017. Facebook didn’t catch it. The false claim went undiscovered before 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.