Facebook combats fake news with new warning label

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Don’t believe everything you read on Facebook. 

The Silicon Valley tech firm has started rolling out a new warning label for news stories that are “disputed” by a third-party fact checker, such as Snopes and PolitiFact. These fact-checking organisations are part of Poynter’s International Fact-Checking Network.

Facebook users can flag a fake news story by clicking on a gray downward arrow button on the right side of an article.

The spread of misinformation on social media sites became a growing concern after Donald Trump won the presidential election.

“We’ve made progress fighting hoaxes the way we fight spam, but we have more work to do,” wrote Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a lengthy February letter outlining the company’s global ambitions. “We are proceeding carefully because there is not always a clear line between hoaxes, satire and opinion.”

He noted that the company is trying to focus on surfacing more information from fact checkers rather than pulling down fake content.

One fictional story that has been flagged on Facebook is an article by a satire website called The Seattle Tribune that said Trump’s unsecured Android device was the source of recent White House leaks.

The website, though, has a disclaimer that the stories it publishes are fictional and meant to be satire.

When you click on the disputed story, a message from Facebook pops up – along with links to Snopes and PolitiFact – explaining why it’s fake news.

While Snopes points out that the website is not a legitimate news outlet, it also notes there is misinformation in the piece.

“That article cited two non-existent ‘intelligence agencies,’ A.R.H. Intelligence and Z|13 Security, as its primary source, and hijacked the social media hashtag #DitchTheDevice, which has been used to encourage cellphone users to spend more time away from their tech, ” Snopes wrote.

While some Facebook users noticed that the story was fictional, others publicly shared the story on the social network as if it were fact.

And even social-media savvy teenagers get duped by fake news.

A study last year by Stanford History Education Group found that students from middle school to high school are easily fooled by biased sources, ads that resemble news articles and even bogus social media pages.

— The Mercury News/Tribune News Service