Social media took the world by storm with nearly 2.5 billion people having an account on at least one platform. People often use their social media accounts to read and share information. Unfortunately, social media has made it all too easy for false information to be shared. Fake news has become a problem, and platforms like Facebook have faced criticism for making it too easy for fake news sources to spread amongst people. Recently, the social media giants have announced plans to combat this and make sure false information does not make its way to the masses as easily as it has done in the past.
Fake news isn’t a new concept, but it seems to have exploded thanks to social media. It can be created for economic or political gain and has been accused of having influence over people’s decision making. It only takes a click of the button to share this fake news, and in a short time, it could be read by millions.
Facebook is now taking steps to put an end to it and are looking at three key aspects in tackling fake news including interrupting any financial incentives these spammers may be getting, creating new products to help stop the spread of false information and educating people as to what is fake news and how to report it. Facebook has added an option to report fake news. If enough people report a post, then the story will be sent to fact checkers. Pages that are found to be sharing fake news stories will be shut down. Facebook recently added an update where fact checkers ay put a link to the fact-checking story underneath a fake one in news feeds.
Facebook has over a billion active users, and it cannot go through every story shared, so they depend on the users to mark fake news stories. This is where educating users came in. For a few days, Facebook added a link to the top of timelines in 14 countries to educate people on how to spot fake news in partnership with First Draft, a non-profit organisation that aims to improve the reporting and sharing of information. They defined fake news as “hoaxes shared by spammers” and make it clear it isn’t just news that you don’t agree with. It is obviously disguised as real news, sometimes even making a few changes to make it look like it is a known and trusted source.
Facebook is also working with partners like Snopes, the Associated Press, and Politifact to help prevent the spread of fake news.
Before the announcement about tackling fake news, Facebook already put in place measures to reduce the links to low-quality web pages. This stops people from following links that lead to malicious malware and being bombarded with pop-up ads.
This is only the beginning of the war on fake news. Facebook themselves have admitted there is still a lot of work to do, but they will continue the fight.