Image: JEFF CHIU/AP/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK
Facebook is throwing away "disputed flags," one of its several attempts to curb the spread of fake news across the social network.
About a year ago, Facebook launched the feature, where red flag icons were put next to articles that were identified to be false by a team of independent fact-checking organizations.
But according to Facebook's research, the effort didn't help much. Facebook's team identified four reasons that disputed flags were not an ideal strategy, as shared in a blog post on Medium.
Buried critical information a.k.a. required too many clicks
Could sometimes backfire because strong language or visuals can reinforce ideas
Required at least two fact-checkers so was a slow process to be applied
Only worked for false ratings so stories that were partly false or unproven were not marked
This admission comes amid scrutiny from parties not believing Facebook was doing enough. Independent fact-checkers working with Facebook critiqued the company for not sharing enough information with them at the time on how their efforts were doing.
What the disputed flag tool looked like
"They have a big problem, and they are leaning on other organizations to clean up after them," one journalist working with Facebook told The Guardian.
Going forward, Facebook will be focused on related articles, links of stories from reputable news sources. These will appear before a user even click-throughs to a website with the hope of showing accurate information and providing more context beyond just one headline.
Related articles lead to fewer shares than disputed flags attached to fake news stories, according to Facebook's researchers.
“Related Articles, by contrast, are simply designed to give more context, which our research has shown is a more effective way to help people get to the facts," Facebook product manager Tessa Lyons wrote in the blog post announcement.
Of course, this could all change in the future. Facebook is constantly updating how it displays stories on News Feed.
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