Facebook’s News Feed has become a place where it’s very easy for hoaxes to go viral, and the social networking giant has announced that it’s starting to tackle that problem.
Now anytime a significant number of users marks a particular link or story as being a hoax, Facebook will mark an annotation stating ‘many people on Facebook have reported that this story contains false information’. If you do spy a hoax without that annotation, you can report it in exactly the same way that you’d report spam or abuse.
Facebook will also be taking into account how many people delete posts containing certain links. So if a number of people have flagged it as a hoax and a number of people have deleted it, then Facebook’s algorithms will ensure any other posts with that same link will be seen by fewer people.
But Facebook did clarify that it’s not going to start deleting stories, nor is it going to be reviewing them for accuracy. It also promised that satire would not be affected by the new changes, how that’s going to work has yet to be seen.
What I’d like to know is how Facebook will be differentiating between a genuine hoax, and a lot of people flagging stories simply because they don’t agree with its content. I can certainly see stories covering a topic like climate change would fall foul of this.
We all have at least one friend or relative who loves to post obvious hoaxes on Facebook because they believe it to be true, hopefully that’s going to start happening less and less.