Facebook quietly added the new disputed news feature on Friday. This came after months of brawl over Fake news circulation on the platform. The new disputed news tag will now appear below untrustworthy news articles.
The stories flagged as ‘fake’ by users will be reviewed. Independent fact-checking organizations such as Snopes.com and Politifact will review it. After the review whichever story is fake will get a “disputed” tag under it.
The mode of fact checking will follow “Fact-Checkers’ code of Principles” guidelines. It is not clear if after such reviews, a story will rank lower in Facebook’s ranking algorithm.
Will this help curb circulation of fake news?
According to the theory, if a story is “disputed” aka fake then it is less likely to be shared. Thus, the circulation of fake news will reduce to some extent. But whatever may be the outcome, Facebook doesn’t seem to want to tell its users what to believe. This is because from a business point of view, the user engagement will reduce. People who loved reading alternative news won’t enjoy this experience anymore.
This move is already getting heavy criticism from Facebook users far and wide. Moreover, the flagging process takes days which is enough time for the fake news to go viral.
Effectiveness of Disputed News Tag
According to Gizmodo, one of these stories came from TheseattleTribune.com. It is a ‘satirical’ website that has a newspaper-ish name. There are websites that are fake and there are those that tag themselves as a satirical. To distinguish the two, Facebook will have to filter properly, which it doesn’t seem to be doing yet.
Another thing is that by policing the fake news, Facebook is putting itself in the middle of politics. It could lose credibility with the public. They can then shift to other open news channels that they perceive unbiased.
On one hand this move could help people discern, on the other hand, it could invoke the “back-fire effect.” Some people might hold on to the false facts no matter how much it is fact-checked.