Facebook is not removing “fake news” stories from its users’ feeds; the company has announced that it will add a warning label to them, sometimes.
Flagging fake news as “disputed”:
As Facebook promised it would back in December, the social media site will start pinning a “disputed” tag on fake news.
Yesterday, Gizmodo and others spotted a made-up story by “The Seattle Tribune” stating that “Trump’s Android Device Believed To Be Source Of Recent White House Leaks.” This story is not true, but if it shows up on your feed, it will be accompanied with a warning label, saying it’s a “disputed” story, not an untrue one, along with links to fact-checking sites explaining why it’s not true.
It is good for Facebook to tell its 1.9 billion users that some of the stories they may see on Facebook are bogus. It might persuade people from believing the fake stories and act on them like in the case of “pizzagate”
However, the “disputed” tag shows how tentatively the company is approaching this matter. Instead of saying, correctly, that the news is not correct, the tag makes it sound like it’s a matter of opinions.
The process of the tag:
Last year, Facebook explained the process which it needs to go through before attaching the “disputed” label: First, Facebook users report the story as untrue, or the site’s algorithm picks something odd about it. Second, it will send the story to organizations, like Snopes and Politifact, which have agreed to provide free fact-checking. Third, if two of the fact-checkers think it’s untrue, the label is added.
This process made the Seattle Tribune story that went up on Sunday, Feb. 26, stay unlabeled for several days. Snopes labeled it untrue on Thursday, March 2, while Politifact reviewed it at 4:28 pm on Friday, March 3.
For your info, the Seattle Tribune is not a real newspaper, and everything it publishes online is fake news. Per the “publication” itself, it is a “news and entertainment satire web publication,” and “news articles contained within The Seattle Tribune are fictional.” According to Snopes, it’s a fake news factory that specializes in not-very-convincing local news sites.
Facebook’s policy of being “just a platform” has plenty of problems, as it prevents it from facing issues such as fake news head on, but rather let someone else tell it that something’s amiss.