As promised, the social media giant is already rolling out its third-party fact-checking tool to combat fake news, which will alert users to “disputed content”. Back in late 2016, Facebook announced that it would be partnering with independent fact-checkers (ABC News, AP, FactCheck.org, Politifact, and Snopes) to fight the spread of misinformation on its network.
The new system was first noticed by Facebook users who tried to link to a story that falsely claimed thousands of Irish people were brought to the United States as slaves. When they tried to share the story, they were prompted with a red alert claiming that the article has been disputed by Snopes.com and the Associated Press. Even if you ignore the alert and click “publish”, another pop-up will show up, reiterating that its accuracy was “disputed”. Finally, if you click “post anyway”, the link will appear in others’ timelines as “Disputed”. Associated Press then published a “Fact Check” on the article about “Irish slave trade”, which rejected “the false articles, trending on social media”.
The tool works for part of Facebook users so far. The story can also be flagged to Facebook as a “fake news story” via the usual reporting process. The company often trials new features on a small number of users before rolling them out to everyone. As you may remember, concern about the impact of fake news on social media boosted after the US election, which forced Mark Zuckerberg to assure the world that Facebook took misinformation seriously and was working to address its spread. The system works as follows: if enough of Facebook’s users report a story as fake, the social network passes it onto fact-checkers to scrutinize.