Facebook is taking new measures to stop the spread of fake news on its platform, focusing on the “worst of the worst” hoaxes spread by spammers.
The company is making it easier to report a fake news story by clicking in the upper right-hand corner of each post.
Readers will now be allowed to alert Facebook on possible fake news stories, which the company will send those to third-party fact-checking organisations to verify.
If the members of Poynter’s International Fact Checking Network discover the news is fake, it will be flagged as disputed, with a link to the corresponding article revealing the details.
Disputed stories will appear lower in the Facebook news feed, and users will receive a warning that they are disputed if they decide to share them.
If a story is flagged, it can’t be made into an ad and promoted, either.
Facebook vice-president of product management Adam Mosseri said the company was committed to doing its part to address the issue of fake news and hoaxes.
“We believe in giving people a voice and that we cannot become arbiters of truth ourselves, so we’re approaching this problem carefully,” Mosseri said.
The company will analyse whether people are significantly less likely to share an article after reading it, and use that as a signal that a post is low value and should have less importance in the News Feed.
Facebook is also working on reducing the financial incentives. On the buying side, the company eliminated the ability to spoof domains, which it says will reduce the prevalence of sites that pretend to be real publications.
On the publisher side, the company is analysing publisher sites to identify where policy enforcement actions should be taken.
In a post on his own Facebook page unveiling the changes, founder Mark Zuckerberg admitted the company has a greater responsibility to the public.
“While we don’t write the news stories you read and share, we also recognise we’re more than just a distributor of news. We’re a new kind of platform for public discourse – and that means we have a new kind of responsibility to enable people to have the most meaningful conversations, and to build a space where people can be informed.”