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Posted by Katherine

Facebook’s ‘Disputed’ News Tool: Will it Help to Combat Fake News?

Fake news is fast becoming a global problem. A few weeks ago, Donald Trump’s outrage at an unverified news story that alleged he has ties with Russia put the spotlight on social media networks to act.

To help tackle the problem, Facebook announced that it is incorporating a new feature across its social network, but it will first be tested in Germany. The company’s German-language newsroom said “We will put these updates in place in Germany in the coming weeks.”

Facebook’s disputed news feature isn’t currently available to use in the UK.

What is ‘Fake’ News?

If, like me, you sometimes read news stories you come across on Facebook, you may have also read comments such as ‘this isn’t news!’ Now, more frequently, people aren’t just questioning whether articles are newsworthy enough to publish, but whether they are even true.

News articles that contain false information, often deliberately (but sometimes mistakenly) written and circulated for financial gain, are considered to be ‘fake’. Their existence is nothing new, but social media networks such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram – that enable users’ to share and retweet articles almost instantly – are comparatively new platforms that have undoubtedly led to the widespread circulation of fake news stories.

According to analysis by Buzzfeed, viral fake news outperformed real news on Facebook in the final three months of the US presidential campaign. This not only demonstrates how effective compelling headlines can be, but also the power of social media.

How will Facebook’s disputed feature work?

The introduction of the new feature will allow users in Germany to call into question articles they believe to be untrue. This information will then be passed to Correctiv, a non-profit body of investigative journalists made up of about 20 staff members, who will fact-check the articles. If found to be unreliable or of questionable legitimacy, the article will be publicly flagged as “disputed by 3rd part fact-checkers”.

Disputed stories are also likely to have less prominence in users’ news feeds, appearing further down the page.

It is hoped that the new tool will encourage users to share news articles responsibly, while also discouraging the fabrication of stories for personal benefit.

But will it help?

We don’t know if it will help any more than you do, but the downside to the new disputed tool could be that honest independent publishers will find it increasingly difficult to have any kind of impact on social media. Here’s hoping that’s not the case!

What’s your view? Do you think you could identify a fake news story if you saw one? Do you think the new tool will help? Tweet to us @coffeepotdgtl or leave your thoughts below!



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