After being faced with immense criticism, Facebook finally seems to be taking control over its fake news problems with the roll out of its much-awaited flagging system. The social media giant has quietly debuted a ‘disputed’ tag that will now appear underneath hoax and misleading stories, warning users to take caution while reading or sharing the story.
Facebook is flagging links to fake sites now, looks like: pic.twitter.com/N7xaWDkdYA
— Anna Merlan (@annamerlan) March 3, 2017
This is the warning label that tells you to take caution while reading the story as it might contain misleading facts. As already visible in the screenshot above, a made-up story with the title “Trump’s Android Device Believed To Be Source Of Recent White House Leaks” was published by The Seattle Tribune. After being researched by Facebook’s third-party fact-checking partners, the story is asserted as disputed, meaning it might not hold any credibility. It is not outright stating that the story is untrue, just saying that it believes that the same might contain misleading facts.
First discovered by Gizmodo, the release of this flagging system falls in line with the company’s previous announcement with regards to the same. Facebook, in December, accepted that the company holds a responsibility for the content that flows through the realms of its social platform. It said that it was no longer just the technology company (also reiterated in its new mission statement) it once was. The platform has now become a prominent place for public disclosure and needs to be kept in check to prevent the spread of such misleading stories.
Thus, the company had then announced that it would crack down on such channels and organizations with the release of their flagging tools. And the same now seems to have been released to take control of the spread of misleading facts on the platform. The process of weeding out such stories seems to be transparent as the ‘disputed’ tag carries along with it the name of the fact-checking organization who debunked the story for propagating false facts. Also, it is not slapping a warning label to the sources, but individual stories posted by such organizations.
With the release of this tool, Facebook believes that it will be able to reduce the readership of alternative sources, which help propagate misleading facts. The warning label would act the red tape asking users to understand that the said story might be untrue. Thus, this is going to reduce user engagement for such sources, but we’ll have to wait and witness the effectiveness of this tool. Facebook is said to be working on more features and tools to complement this flagging system, even in partnership with Google.