With so much traffic coming to Facebook on a daily basis, News Feed is often a busy place. For some users, News Feed has become their main source for current events and any updates relevant to their interests. As is often the case, there will be instances when posted news stories are either part of a larger online hoax or are complete fabrications.
Hence, Facebook engineers are working to lessen the presence of hoaxes on News Feed in favor of authentic and verified content. In a post dated January 20, 2015, Facebook’s Erich Owens and Udi Weinsberg said that addressing hoaxes was a major request from users.
“The goal of News Feed is to catch up with your friends and find the things that matter to you. We’re always looking to people on Facebook to tell us how we can improve this experience. We’ve heard from people that they want to see fewer stories that are hoaxes, or misleading news,” stated the post.
Owens and Weinsberg said that Facebook will not be deleting posts that contain hoaxes, but will instead add annotations to posts that have been widely reported as false or misleading.
As Figure 1 above shows, this particular post has been flagged by several Facebook users as one that contains false information. This is clearly evident in the disclaimer found at the top of the story. According to Owens and Weinsberg, plenty of Facebook users are vigilant in pointing out hoaxes or spam links that they see on their News Feed, and will comment on such posts to warn others.
When users want to hide a story, they now have the option of flagging it as false [See Figure 2 below]. Because people are very likely to delete spammy or misleading posts, Facebook will also take into consideration how many times a link has been removed. Content that has been reported as misleading will then get reduced distribution on News Feed.
Owens and Weinsberg also assured that this update would not affect satirical content that gets posted on Facebook. As Facebook has been experimenting with the “satire tag” since August of last year, “content that is intended to be humorous,” such as posts from The Onion, should be safe.
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