Facebook Makes Changes to Prevent the Spread of Fake News
As a response to claims that false content runs rampant across the social network, Facebook has updated its news feed algorithms.
During possibly the most contentious election cycle in American history, social networks played a central role in spreading information, right alongside mainstream news outlets. For many across the country, Facebook posts and Twitter feeds served as primary sources of news.
A third-party study showed that in the last three months of the presidential campaign, top-performing false news stories on Facebook received more engagement than top stories from major news sources like The New York Times and The Washington Post. This means that hundreds of thousands of Facebook users have been exposed to false reporting.
It’s not surprising, therefore, that Facebook has been making attempts to remove fake content from its news feed. The company recently announced updates including partnerships with third-party fact-checkers. If enough independent fact-checkers find a story to be false, and mark it as such, Facebook users will be able to see that the content has been flagged as untrue. And content that has been flagged is now more likely to appear lower in news feeds. Also, a flagged story cannot be promoted as an ad.
In its most recent announcement on the topic, Facebook revealed that it has updated its news feed algorithms to “better identify and rank authentic content.” These updates will do a better job of determining whether a post is authentic or false. The updated algorithms will identify whether a Facebook page has posted spam or asked for likes, shares, or comments. Posts from these pages will be used to “train a model that continuously identifies whether posts from other pages are likely to be authentic,” according to Facebook. If a post has been hidden by many users from their news feed, then that signals that it might be inauthentic content. These sorts of posts may, as a result, show up lower on your feed as well.
Moving forward, Facebook will continue to improve its news feed algorithms and monitoring systems to ensure that the platform encourages the spread of authentic content. The social media company will make these changes in the hopes that its role in the national conversation becomes a more positive one.