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Facebook Ditches 'Disputed' News Tag After It Totally Backfired

Facebook Ditches 'Disputed' News Tag After It Totally Backfired

Stopping people from reading fake news is proving tougher than expected, Facebook has acknowledged.

Facebook launched disputed flags - among other anti-misinformation features - in mid-December previous year. Well it seems that was a mistake, too, because now Facebook is doing away with the disputed tags.

Facebook says that putting a red flag on inaccurate stories may have actually reinforced "deeply held beliefs", instead of opening up readers to critical thinking.

Nearly exactly a year ago Facebook announced that it would enable people to flag fake news articles so that third-party fact checkers could evaluate their veracity and, if considered false, flag them as "Disputed".

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Facebook worked with third-party fact checkers such as PolitiFact and Snopes to go through and individually mark stories as disputed - a process that was slow and only scratched the surface of fake content on the network, people in the programme have told Bloomberg.

This system will be put in place alongside Facebook's existing strategy for combating fake news, which uses machine learning to identify bogus stories before passing those pieces on to human fact-checkers.

The company says it will no longer stick the word "disputed" next to misleading information, an action that had been one of its original measures to tackle the spread of intentionally false information on Facebook. "For example, they might use "false, ' 'partly false, ' 'unproven, ' and 'true.' We only applied Disputed flags to 'false" ratings because it was a strong visual signal", wrote Smith, Jackson and Raj.

In a blog post published Wednesday (20 December), the California-headquartered tech giant revealed that it has also started a new initiative to better understand how its users "decide whether information is accurate or not based on the news sources they depend upon". He has reported for Advertising Age, Adweek and Direct Marketing News.


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