During the Fighting Abuse @Scale conference, Facebook and other tech companies discussed their plans for combating fake news and misinformation online. CNET reports that the social media giant isn’t interested in playing the role of a full-time fact checker, but does want to fight the spread of misinformation where it can.
“We’re concerned when falsehood becomes an industry,” said Facebook engineering director Michael McNally.
Facebook had previously attempted to fight fake news stories by flagging the stories as fake. The company found that the bright red tags may have actually encouraged some users to share the stories, however. Rather than bring back the tagging system, Facebook announced a couple of new ways it would help combat the spread of fake news.
For starters, when Facebook’s fact-checking process (which uses a combination of algorithms and third-party reviewers) determines a story is false, it will appear smaller on your timeline. The company is hopeful that this will make it easier for users to scroll past fake stories shared by their friends.
“We reduce the visual prominence of feed stories that are fact-checked false,” a Facebook spokesperson told Tech Crunch.
Additionally, the company will start displaying related articles beneath false stories. These articles will come from reputable news sources and fact-checking organizations and are meant to provide a counterbalance to the fake stories.
Facebook currently works with about 20 different fact-checking organizations around the world, including Snopes and PolitiFact. Their numbers are limited, however, so Facebook has started using A.I. to scan newly published stories for signs that they might be fake. The hope is that machine learning, combined with user reports, will allow its partner fact checkers to make better use of their time.
”We use machine learning to help predict things that might be more likely to be false news, to help prioritize material we send to fact-checkers (given the large volume of potential material),” a Facebook spokesperson confirmed.
In total, Facebook says that its new policies can reduce the spread of fake news stories by as much as 80 percent. It isn’t an easy task, but Facebook says it is committed to helping solve the problem of false news.