That Facebook post about a super-secret conspiracy mainstream media doesn’t want you to know about? It could soon be accompanied by a link to actual reporting repudiating those claims. Facebook began rolling out a new initiative to debunk fake news Thursday that automatically serves up related links from reliable sources for stories that have been flagged by fact-checkers as potential hoaxes.
Facebook first began testing those related links with a subset of its audience this spring, and said Thursday that those tests have proven successful. “Since starting this test, we’ve heard that Related Articles helps give people more perspectives and additional information, and helps them determine whether the news they are reading is misleading or false,” the company wrote in an update to its original April blog post. “So we’re rolling this out more broadly.”
Facebook is using a combination of artificial intelligence and expert fact checkers to identify and debunk potential hoaxes this way. Machine learning algorithms are being used to scan posted stories for potentially misleading information, and then flag them for fact checkers to review. Facebook then works with outside experts to review these flagged results, and select appropriate related articles to give Facebook users more context.
One of the reasons for this approach is that Facebook doesn’t want to censor the posts of its users to suppress articles, even if they contain false or misleading information. At the same time, Facebook is clearly under pressure to act; the company has faced harsh criticism after the election of President Trump for its role in the spreading of false news stories that were designed to influence the results of the election.