For several months, Facebook has tinkered with the idea of flagging spurious news stories that gain traction among its 1.86 billion monthly users. In a digital climate where “Fake News” has become a choice phrase used even by the president, Mark Zuckerberg’s empire is finally taking measures to curb the scourge of misinformation that have dogged it since the November election.
Enter Facebook’s “Disputed Stories” function, which with the help of non-partisan, third-party fact-checkers such as Snopes and Politifact, aims to mine for the truth amid the clutter. There’s a bit of crowdsourcing involved too -- users can mark stories as questionable if they so choose -- but it’s ultimately the fact-checker’s job to arbitrate what is truthful. The journalism demigods at the Poynter Institute are at the forefront of the exercise, as all fact-checkers must adhere to the institute’s “code of principles.”
“You may see that certain news stories are marked as disputed on Facebook. News stories that are reported as fake by people on Facebook may be reviewed by independent third-party fact-checkers. These fact-checkers will be signatories of the non-partisan Poynter Code of Principles. A story may be marked as disputed if these fact-checkers find the story to be fake.”
Here’s how you can play citizen-detective and mark a story as fake:
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Late last year -- after a bunch of bogus stories got the internet flummoxed and helped influence voter decisions at the ballot box -- Facebook banned the B.S. Detector -- a chrome extension that flagged fake news stories. The fake news issue reached such a fever pitch last year that even high school kids were developing methods to circumvent it.
Now though, after much deliberation and waffling, Zuckerburg and co. are finally doing what they must to stymie much of the nonsense traveling around the web at warp speed. Kudos to them, but time will tell how effective all this comes to be.