Facebook is currently working out how to lessen the reach of misinformation and fake news on its site. It starts testing a new feature today, and it seems to be pretty useful. When an article link is shared in a News Feed, there will now be a small “i” button that when clicked, will display additional information about the publisher and the article. It will include information from the Wikipedia page of the publisher, a link to follow its Facebook Page, Related and Trending articles regarding the same topic and a graphic on where and how the particular article is being shared across Facebook. When any of that information is not available, Facebook will state that explicitly. That in itself is pretty beneficial. For example, if there is no Wikipedia page for the publisher of the article, it could indicate it is not a reputable outlet.
After coming to terms with the fact that its platform contributed to the spread of fake news during 2016’s presidential elections, Facebook has implemented some features and regulations that are aimed at combating the said problem. It equipped its algorithms to deprioritise clickbait and fake news as well as articles that are shared by individuals who post at notably high frequencies. It cut off the ad revenue of fake news sites and blocked advertisements generated by Pages that share misinformation. Facebook also started introducing fact checked articles and consolidating related articles that cover a Trending topic. Some of the efforts of Facebook appear to be producing a positive effect — the site deleted thousands of fake accounts ahead of the recently-held German election. However, there have also been some missteps. Facebook published quite a bit of fake news following the massacre in Las Vegas this week.
Facebook announces that this information button test is just getting started. “We’ll continue to listen to people’s feedback and work with publishers to provide people easy access to the contextual information that helps people decide which stories to read, share, and trust, and to improve the experiences people have on Facebook,” the tech giant said in a statement.