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Facebook Swaps Disputed Flag For Related Articles To Stop Fake News

Tech

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Based on new research, the social media giant is changing the way it flags disputable content.

Facebook wants to help fight the spread of misinformation on its platform by identifying content from disputable sources and then taking things a step further by suggesting a related article from a credible source.

This second step is important, as it allows Facebook to help mitigate the influence of malicious or patently false posts by providing additional material right alongside them. Announced via a blog post this week, the new policy comes roughly one year after Facebook introduced several ways to stop the spread of false content. These included simplifying the steps a user had to take to report a story believed to be false, forging partnerships with fact-checking organizations, and embedding features like Disputed Flags.

Facebook is now refining this approach based on new research that suggests visually “flagging” false content can have the opposite effect on people who are deeply entrenched in their existing beliefs. The research explored what misinformation looks like “across different contexts,” as well as how users react to various signals indicating a piece of content is so-called “fake news.”

The big takeaway for Facebook: If the aim is to reverse the impact of false content, flagging will only embolden users in their sharing. So, what does work? Providing additional sources and reading materials.

In a separate post on the topic, Product Manager Tessa Lyons said: “We’ve found that when we show Related Articles next to a false news story, it leads to fewer shares than when the Disputed Flag is shown.”

It’s clear that Facebook users want more context to guide their overall engagement. As far as how the Related Articles solution can deliver this, Facebook says, “it makes it easier to get context, it requires only one fact-checker’s review, it works for a range of ratings, and it doesn’t create the negative reaction that strong language or a red flag can have.”

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