Facebook is teaming up with fact-checking organizations to reduce the amount of fake news its users see and share. This comes after outcry that fake news played a role in influencing the 2016 presidential election.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg initially denied that fallible human minds can be deceived by lies, saying back in November that it was "pretty crazy" to think that fake news had an effect on election results.
While Zuckerberg was in denial, fake news on Facebook spread headlines that suggested, for example, that Pope Francis endorsed Trump or that President Obama was REALLY born in Kenya.
After turmoil within the organization over Zuckerberg's statements, here's what Facebook announced today it will do to approach the matter "carefully":
• Make it easier for users to report stories as fake. Stories that are flagged multiple times will be forwarded to third-party fact-checking organizations.
• Mark stories that independent fact-checkers can not verify as "disputed."
• Rank disputed stories lower in its mysterious algorithm, which will apparently spread them less on other users' news feeds.
• Prevent fake news producers from promoting their posts as ads.
One point of concern: how sensitive are users to the differences between reported news and satirical news, and how will stories from sites like The Onion and Cracked.com, fare under these new measures?
Also, how compelled are users to ignore or even embrace the warning of "fake news" because of the anti-"mainstream media" connotation that it implies? In fact, certain people are already re-purposing the term "fake news" to attack stories from legitimate news sources that have real reporters.
Facebook acknowledges in its release, that the new measures announced today aren't enough—but they are a big step forward from denial.