Fake news on Facebook: Are we stuck with it?

Ever since the U.S. elections last month, the topic of fake news has been in the headlines almost daily. In particular, following the election of Donald Trump, Facebook came in for some harsh criticism for having allowed false stories to circulate; many critics believe such stories might have influenced the outcome of the election. “Pizzagate” is an obvious example, but other stories have spread across Facebook and other social media platforms—some of them “pants on fire” false, others containing elements of truth.

It’s the stories with some “truthiness” to them (to quote another U.S. president) that cause the biggest headaches, of course. For example, shortly after the election, a story started spreading that Ford Motors had started moving production of some of its vehicles from Mexico to Ohio…just as Donald Trump had promised they would! Wahoo!

Oh, except that the story, while somewhat true, was based on this CNN report from August 2015, before Trump was even declared the Republican nominee. So…mostly false, then? Whoops.

This could be where third-party fact-checkers, such as FactCheck.org, come in. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg noted in a post on 19 November that Facebook has relied on reports and reactions from users to point the way:

Historically, we have relied on our community to help us understand what is fake and what is not. Anyone on Facebook can report any link as false, and we use signals from those reports along with a number of others — like people sharing links to myth-busting sites such as Snopes — to understand which stories we can confidently classify as misinformation. Similar to clickbait, spam and scams, we penalize this content in News Feed so it’s much less likely to spread….We do not want to be arbiters of truth ourselves, but instead rely on our community and trusted third parties. 

Mr Zuckerberg stated that some goals will be to improve detection of fake news stories, make it easier to report them, look into third-party verification, and “explor(e) labeling stories that have been flagged as false by third parties or our community, and showing warnings when people read or share them”.

But wait, weren’t they already supposed to be doing this?

In recent weeks, we’ve heard various reports that Facebook is about to, or has already, included a “fake news” option in its post reporting algorithm. But as some readers here have pointed out, this option has actually been available for some time now.

Indeed, a January 2016 post on Facebook’s “Newsroom” page states:

We’ve heard from people that they want to see fewer stories that are hoaxes, or misleading news. Today’s update to News Feed reduces the distribution of posts that people have reported as hoaxes and adds an annotation to posts that have received many of these types of reports to warn others on Facebook.

According to this post from a year ago, this is what was supposed to happen to fake news stories on Facebook:

fake-news-on-fb-2016-12-14Are we alone in never, ever having seen such an annotation on any story on Facebook?

Either Facebook dropped the idea, or it’s just never caught on.

In that same post, Facebook stated:

To reduce the number of these types of posts, News Feed will take into account when many people flag a post as false. News Feed will also take into account when many people choose to delete posts. This means a post with a link to an article that many people have reported as a hoax or chosen to delete will get reduced distribution in News Feed. This update will apply to posts including links, photos, videos and status updates. [Emphasis ours]

Assuming that Facebook wasn’t just having us on (see previous remarks re. non-existent annotations on posts), this could mean something interesting for the future of fake news on the world’s largest social network.

It doesn’t mean that fake news stories will be removed; it means they will be downgraded in the News Feed algorithm…and then only if they receive flags from “many people”. How many is “many”? That’s not specified. On a site that sees 1.15 billion monthly active users, “many” could be quite a lot.

And let’s face it: with the sheer volume of news stories, real and fake, that get shared daily on Facebook, how many million fact-checkers would it take to stem the flow of fake news that makes its way into those 1.5 billion news feeds?

It’s been suggested that rather than trying to tackle all the fake news, Facebook focus on stories that make it all the way to the “Trending” section…but that leaves an awful lot of rubbish floating around the average user’s News Feed.

So despite the noises Facebook has made about trying to be a bit more responsible in its dissemination of fake news, ultimately it looks like we’ll be stuck with this problem for some time to come.

snopes-fake-news-sites

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50 thoughts on “Fake news on Facebook: Are we stuck with it?

    • Disappointing.

      But thank you for blocking that background image 🙂
      I understand this is lately a “me” issue, and I don’t expect the average “internet 1/2wit”, (that was an early pseudonym of mine, hee-hee), to “get” the necessity of being respectful about historic images of unknown origin to us, but I appreciate when my friends make such efforts 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think that is one of the images associated with the Johnny Gosch case – which actually turned out to have less sinister origins than it first appeared.

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        • @FS – yes. However, we know that those photos were copied out of a forum wherein they were being “traded” by persons who found them to be sexually stimulating. Knowing this, I think they ought to be interpreted as “pornographic” and treated as such – at the very least, the faces of the minor persons ought always to be blanked or hidden.

          There will be many other images, of course, dating back to the 1950’s or even earlier, that involve minors in situations with a possible sexual connotation. In many cases, their participation in the images will have been involuntary. It would be respectful, therefore, to treat them in a similar manner if the identity of the once minor persons involved is not known, and their permission to reproduce obtained. In my opinion.

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  1. I’m glad that Hillary Clinton, who took so much money from Saudi Arabia or fought cases that protected the rapists of twelve year old girls now has a fact checking service that had nothing to do with the fact that she was campaigning in an election where her levels of corruption could barely be concealed by the mainstream media. Glad they could confirm her bravery in coming under sniper fire in Bosnia. This is the candidate who openly admitted to having a ‘public answer’ and a ‘private answer’ on the Trans Pacific Partnership. I’m sure that the candidate who had a harmless email server in their bathroom that gave the most inept of hackers (state sponsored or otherwise) a good glimpse of top-secret clearance documents and higher (for which people have been imprisoned for years and barred from any official position where secrecy is essential), who then proceeded to use specialist wiping software and accidentally smash devices up with a hammer during the court case, is really interested in ‘fact-checking’ for our benefit. I’m sure it has nothing to do with the fact that corporations like CNN and others are destined to be non-existent within the next few years if their viewership continues to decline. Glad they could finally sort that out for us.

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    • Hillary Clinton did not : “fought cases that protected the rapists of twelve year old girls”- she was appointed by a judge to defend one accused child rapist and he was convicted. There are 1000s of trials every week all over the world where lawyers are hired to defend or are appointed by a court to defend people on serious charges. This is nothing out of the ordinary but it seems millions of Yanks are completely ignorant about how their own courts work and bizarrely choose to demonstrate that ignorance for the world to see.

      Despite the exaggerations and hysteria over Clinton’s private email server the fact that George Bush Jnr, Bill Clinton and Bush Snr had similar is ignored. The FBI who appear to be hostile to Clinton found no evidence of any crime or need to refer her to the Justice Department for prosecution. Ever heard of Richard Nixon and the wiped tape recording tapes? Probably not.

      If you have evidence of “Clinton’s corruption” you should take it to the FBI yourself as they seem to be in a receptive mood but they may require something more substantial than junk claims gathered from right-wingnut websites.

      You may also while you are there ask them to investigate the Bush families’ financial investments with the Bin Laden family and the Saudi Royal family. You may also ask them to look into the Saudi’s ‘investments’ and donations to Trump’s “foundation” of which virtually nothing is distributed (unlike the Clinton Foundation where over 88% of donations goes to charity). Doubt they would be interested as these are not crimes though.

      Attempting to now blame the person hacked who is the victim is an abomination but this is a new mantra of the far right and the aptly named Deplorables and for that matter you have no knowledge that the Republicans and Donald Trump wasn’t hacked and the hackers decided to hold onto information for blackmail purposes.

      It’s also troubling that Donald trump is using unsecured telephones in Trump Tower to speak with international leaders should disturb everyone- it’s certainly sent the Secret Service into meltdown.

      Anyone can play these games but posting blatant lies is pathetic. Do you need the address of Brietbart.com? They like that sort of stuff over there and they have far more & newer anti-Clinton memes- the ones you have used are very old hat and been shot in flames ages ago.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hillary Clinton was recorded laughing at how her faith in polygraphs was destroyed by her client taking one. She knew he raped that girl, go look at the case yourself. That it was is meant when I accuse her of defending people who rape children.
        If the Bushes had private servers of their own then they are also guilty, however, that does not make Hillary any less guilty of possessing one. Even if she had done this in ignorance, this would at the very least qualify as incompetence in regard to her job because we cannot have a president that has no understanding of handling classified information. People have been sentenced to prison for far lesser mishandling of classified information.
        If you continue to assume the moral highground through throwing the overton window behind your opponents it will not work. It has already stopped working. If you double-down on insults you will continue to lose ground. I am proud to be ‘deplorable’ in this context.

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        • What is unfortunate and unacceptable is that politics is such a dishonest game and politicos generally are inherently dishonest people. If it were otherwise ‘gameable’ concepts such as the Overton Window would never have held water; yet they do… “Political football” is a game in which the people politicos are supposed to serve are but blades of grass to be trampled upon and mowed, and occasionally fed on a mixture of diluted shit and conditioning potions.

          The only thing any of them is concerned about is gaining ground and the ultimate goal of obtaining power.

          Why would you expect honesty from any of this lot? Personally I cannot think of a ‘politician’ of any stripe from any country who I would consider to be a person of integrity. Why is it any surprise that they game the Simian typewriter? Put simply, they’re all bloody crooks! – What’s new?

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        • Her so-called laugh is taken totally of context. You are being absolutely ridiculous : Clinton did not laugh at the victim, she laughed at an aspect of the case. However she did not laugh about groping women in the pussy or assaulting them and boast about it like Donald Trump did.

          You have zilch knowledge how people talk in private (as exampled by Trump) and they could be saying all sorts of dreadful things and that includes politicians you may think are wonderful. You are posting guff as a prime example of fake news that has been dredged up to mean far more sinister things than they do.

          You are being totally ridiculous & expressing ignorance: no internet server is safe and that is why the US government has unsuccessfully attempted to extradite one British teen for hacking into the Department of Defense servers and is now trying to extradite another. there have been numerous examples of sensitive US government servers being hacked by young hackers who have been arrested, some have done deals to work for the FBI.

          There is no such thing as a secure internet server as the many hacks of US government servers have demonstrated and you exaggerate about Clinton’s private server and ignore…no ignore is the wrong word- you are blatantly lying when you know the FBI have concluded no sensitive information was stolen via Clinton’s emails and the worst that was revealed were emails dealing with internal democratic matters and ludicrous claims about a satanic dinner.

          You are right to describe yourself as Deplorable because you certainly are which just confirms my previous statement than many Yanks are not only ignorant they feel the need to express their ignorance and blindness to facts for the world top see just as you have. If aren’t keen on Breibart I have the web address of the KKK which may be more to liking.
          Enjoy your life under the Siberian Candidate and Vladimir Putin puppet president and for that matter it’s time you made him prove he was born in America and is not a Communist plant. Good for Goose, gander etc.

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          • They lost, and not a moment too soon. I will be disappointed if Clinton isn’t prosecuted. People have been imprisoned for far lesser breaches of confidentiality in regard to classified information. The investigation into Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation is still open.

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          • So presumably, Bob, you believe that Trump should also be prosecuted for sexual assault, considering he has been recorded admitting to it. Or does the law only apply to Democrats?

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      • If Trump had had any real evidence against Clinton he would have used it by now. What he has is a lot of half truths and innuendo that he can spin on for ever without ever going to court.

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        • The case is still open. I will be disappointed if she isn’t prosecuted. People have been jailed for far less in regard to classified information.

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          • The case is not still open. Why are you blatantly lying?
            Do you think if you keep saying these things that makes them true?.
            The FBI have closed the case. End of story.
            I’m disappointed you haven’t been prosecuted for making things up. Clinton won’t be prosecuted so get used to it.
            Christ has there ever been an example in recent history of such bad winners as the Trump Mob? They are still mean, nasty, deluded and still seething with anger over false accusations. And that’s when they win! Can you imagine what they will be like when it finally dawns upon them that they won’t all be getting that pony The Don promised them?

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    • That thread gets a little nasty about Noreen Gosch. I found her to be very nice but not the most sophisticated of people. People also ignore- or possibly cannot image- the awful trauma a parent must go through when their child just vanishes never to be seen again. You often hear from parents in similar cases that they would rather know that child had been murdered and the details and for a body to be found as that is the most probable outcome.

      I also think people tend to ignore how any parent would clutch any straw of help offered and speak to any person who said they could help. It would be a natural thing to do. They are vulnerable to opportunists and I think the McCanns have gone through similar.
      By the time I spoke to her she had decided that not only was Ted Gunderson a grasping opportunist : he had come up with several ideas for her to approach the media and wealthy people to back her in a search for her son with him being paid. She also decided he was quite mad and this is conformed ina very good interview done- for Rolling Stone?- with Gunderson who may have been a top FBI agent but had retired early and was always seeking new ways of making money, apparently unable to live on his pension.

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      • Classic example of confirmation bias: those who eat this shit up and spew it out tend to be the ones whose beliefs tend in that direction anyway.

        It’s the same with Hoaxtead. People who believe in “Satanic ritual abuse” in the first place latched onto this hoax with all their might, and even now, some refuse to let go.

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    • Exactly so S.V. – Other than as an observer, why tune in to it though? Who makes up the target market for propaganda? The credulous, uneducated and undiscerning.

      Why is there surprise that a platform designed originally for high school kids has turned into the world’s most favoured meeting place for the bubble-headed and deranged? I suspect it will, eventually, go the same way as the ‘MSN’, MySpace and Bebos of yesterday… And be duly replaced by some other playground.

      To think, they used to call television ‘the idiot box’. Seems it has been replaced.

      Liked by 2 people

    • This is why paedophile hunters shouldn’t be allowed to do what they do, after all some of us have seen the contence of their Facebook pages, and it shows that some of them arn’t exactly the sharpest tools in the box. Talking of which, I saw Bill Maloney on television tonight, standing in the background of the Shirley Oaks survivors group, they should be very careful, be amuse he didn’t exactly do then Medomsley survivors any favours, come to think of it, has he actually done anything to help anyone.

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    • Surely she knows brave Angela just calls upon The Lord when being attacked (usually after she has written or broadcast terrible unproved accusations about people) and cloaks herself in a biblical quote.
      Which reminds me: whatever happened to The Rapture in September?. Did they reject Angela’s application and escort her of the flight?.
      And for that matter where is the Planet Nibiru which Princess Ved assured us would have appeared in the skies by now and where is my free energy machine Keshe which Ved assured us a year ago we were all getting one for Christmas?

      Liked by 1 person

    • Somewhere in the past on Hoaxtead I predicted that the hoaxers would soon adopt the word psychopath to use and accuse their detractors of being after we identified them as such.

      Liked by 1 person

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