facebook, Zuckerberg

Ever since the announcement of the election result, the integrity of Facebook – as well as other  platforms – has been under scrutiny by the majority of populous on the interwebs. Over the past week, the social media behemoth has insistently been called out for its problem of surfacing fake news and lend a helping hand in influencing the outcome of the election.

Though the claims have twice been denied by CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who believes that 99 percent news on the platform is authentic and the idea of the same affecting the election result is pretty crazy. Zuck might have expressed his anxiety on the problem by voicing his views on Facebook but he hadn’t discussed a solution for the same – until today. In a Facebook post on his official page, Zuckerberg finally shone light on his company’s plans to help stop the propagation of misinformation.

Zuckerberg starts off by stating,

The bottom line is: we take misinformation seriously. The problems here are complex, both technically and philosophically. We’ve been working on this problem for a long time and we take this responsibility seriously.

If you re-read the aforementioned statement, you’ll realize that it is probably the first time Facebook has accepted that is surely plagued by a fake news problem. This is surely an important step in the right direction for Zuckerberg who’s been flustered over the hubbub surrounding his platform in the news — including accusations from former U.S President Barack Obama.

For a long time, Facebook has heavily relied on input from the platform’s community to cut down on the spread of misinformation or fake news. The social network tries to scrutinize such content by enabling anyone to report false links, which adds to a similar signal corpus and is then checked against links on myth-busting sites such as Snopes. This cross-checking enables them to filter links they’re confident about. Once the system has determined the credibility of the news and its source, the content is penalized and is less likely to become viral on the platform.

But is the community on Facebook the best judge? As Zuck mentions we have a tendency of interpreting fake news(the nature of which is unknown to us at the time) more seriously as compared to original factual content. But the community on the social network is composed on multiple individual opinions and the founder isn’t in favor of suppressing the same. On the contrary, he goes on to add,

We need to be careful not to discourage sharing of opinions or mistakenly restricting accurate content. We do not want to be arbiters of truth ourselves, but instead rely on our community and trusted third parties.

On this very note, Zuckerberg switches tone to finally discuss the solutions which will help curb this nagging problem of misleading and fake information on the social network. Here are a few solutions which are currently in the works:

  • Strong Detection: A much-needed important step is surely a more natural and informed detection system which classifies misleading sources of information as fake even before the community. The company will most likely use neural networks (already integrated into the mobile app) to learn what people are expected to report.
  • Easy reporting: Since Facebook plans to keep the community in the loop, it will make some necessary improvements to reporting which will help the company catch misinformation faster.
  • Third-party verification: Bringing in help from outside is also a part of this fight against the spread of misinformation on the platform. The company has contacted many respected fact-checking organizations and services synonymous to Snopes, it plans to contact numerous others.
  • Warnings: In addition to making changes to reporting and detection, Facebook also plans to show pop-up warnings when people try to open stories marked as fake(or misleading). The company also plans to label stories flagged by third-parties and the community.
  • Related Article Quality: It is also planning to raise the bar for stories which appear in the ‘related’ stories section under the links in the News Feed.
  • Listening: Facebook is also planning to further extend its relation with journalists and others in the news industry to get their input on furthering their mission of masking fake news on the platform. Their input will enable the teams to better understand fact-checking system used by themselves.

Though Zuckerberg has detailed numerous solutions, we’ll have to wait to see for Facebook to successfully implement them in the coming months. Stay tuned for more!

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