The vast amount of content that is produced and consumed on Facebook every day leads to a situation where the lines between fact and fiction are blurred. Facebook acts as an informational hub that users access for news, entertainment, as well as connecting with friends.
An issue arises when authentic stories are intertwined in a web of fake news and satirical takes on current events, resulting in the perpetuation of misconstrued facts. The effects of this phenomenon became all too evident during the 2016 election where fake news flooded timelines. Since then, Facebook has set forth to mitigate the flow of fake news amongst its user base, who let’s face it, are more prone to check notifications than facts.
In efforts to regulate content, Facebook launched The Journalism Project in early 2017, aimed at creating a trustworthy news ecosystem within the platform. With more than four million post likes per minute, this notion is long overdue. The primary initiatives of The Journalism Project are to promote news literacy and develop tools that halt the perpetuation of fake news.
Facebook plans to tackle “alternative facts” using a three-pronged strategic approach. News stories within the Facebook feed now have a “disputed” tag that users can click if they deem the information to be false. Facebook then relies on non-partisan third parties to determine if the flagged stories are factual. Secondly, Facebook has invested in the “News Integrity Initiative,” an association that is developing tools to help users discern whether the news is accurate and fit for sharing. Lastly, Facebook is rolling out an alert function on the top of the news feed with tips to assist individuals in identifying characteristics prominent within false news. Included in these tips are being skeptical of headlines, inspecting the dates, examining URLs carefully, and scanning for strange formatting and misspelling.
In reality, the battle against fake news is a global conflict that Facebook can’t win on their own. We need to start developing powerful tools on a macro level and work together across industries to bring truth back as a primary language. Let’s keep it real people.