Major steps have recently been taken by Facebook to combat the spread of fake news and ultimately help decrease the amount of misinformation the public is exposed to.
The new feature on the social media sight flags stories that are disputed by the Associated Press and Snopes.com
When someone tries to share an article that is disputed, Facebook displays a warning that informs about the user that the information is disputed. Then a second pop-up that lets the user know Facebook is adhering to Poynter’s non-partisan code to distinguish that the article may have false information.
Facebook then links the user to pages on Snopes.com or on the AP website that explain why the article is labeled as disputed.
Individuals are able to ignore these messages and still post the article on their timeline, but directly below is a warning that says, “Disputed by Snopes.com and Associated Press.”
This feature apparently began a few months ago, but recently is making its appearance on social media where users are noticing it.
The model that Facebook chose to inform the public about fake news, and to tame the spread of fake news throughout social media, could be what the country needs.
Individuals who want to share questionable articles could be deterred if they are repeatedly informed that it is disputed by reputable fact-checkers.
This combats the spread of fake news from two angles; by informing the individual sharing the news and anyone who may come across in on Facebook.
This lessens the possibilities for people to become misinformed or play a part in the spread of fake news.
As it is a progressive step in the fight against fake news, this model of sifting out misinformation needs to be seen on other social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram.
This model could even be seen going as far as flagging memes that spread made-up facts and ideas.
Among the most recent flagged articles that was seen and shared on Facebook was a fictionalized story: “Trump’s Android Device Believed To Be The Source of Recent White House Leaks,” from “The Seattle Tribune.”
The story carried the disputed label with the links to AP and Snopes.com explaining why the story was not real.
According to USA Today, the articles that do end up getting flagged not only have the label, but they also get pushed down on people’s newsfeed.
As sharing regardless of the disputed label is a personal preference and there is no clear solution to stopping that in the near future, hopefully more and more Facebook users will get the hint to just not share it at all.
If Facebook users respond the right way, only then should other social media platforms follow Facebook’s lead.