Facebook‘s tool to combat fake news is here. The social network is adding a red warning sign whenever users share disputed content.
That’s right. False stories aren’t labeled as false. The stories are simply labeled as disputed.
The disputed content alert appears directly below the link to the story. Here’s what it looks like:
So what’s wrong with this story about Trump’s unsecured Android device? It appears on a news entertainment and satire site called the Seattle Tribune.
In other words: it’s fake news.
Clicking on the alert will open a popup that tells you the article is disputed by Snopes.com and PolitiFact, with links to pages explaining why on those websites. It also says:
“Sometimes people share fake news without knowing it. When independent fact-checkers dispute this content, you may be able to visit their websites to find out why.
Only fact-checkers signed up to Poynter’s non-partisan code of principles are shown.”
When you try to share a disputed story you’ll see a warning message:
“Before you share this content, you might want to know that the fact-checking sites, Snopes.com and PolitiFact disputed its accuracy.”
Users can continue to share the post or cancel.
Clearly, Facebook’s system is far from perfect. For the system to work, Facebook users will have to report a fake story or Facebook’s automated system will have to catch a story before they check with the fact-checkers.
It will be interesting to see how long it takes Facebook to flag disputed content. Disputed stories may appear lower in the news feed, according to Facebook.
Maybe someday they’ll figure out it’s easier to label every piece of content published on certain domains as disputed content.
Fact-checking sites might be the big winners from this addition. Sites like Snopes and Politifact should expect to see a bump in traffic.
We’ll know soon enough whether Facebook’s disputed content warning system will actually deter users from sharing and spreading disputed news.
Image Credit: Facebook
Subscribe to SEJ
Get our weekly newsletter from SEJ's Founder Loren Baker about the latest news in the industry!