The Facebook initiative to tackle fake news came from the major flak that it received due to the role played by fake news to influence the presidential election past year. Faster action would imply a stronger type of censorship that will surely lead to a contentious debate, which Facebook seems to want to avoid.
A warning label is being slapped on articles that clearly have no basis in fact or reality - at least some of them. The tool consists in a disputed tag which will appear below a "news story" articles found on the social network which presents false information.
This feature is not yet available to all Facebook users.
Among the disputed offenders that people spotted on Facebook: A fictionalized story "Trump's Android Device Believed To Be Source of Recent White House Leaks" from a fictional publication "The Seattle Tribune". Users can see why stories were marked as disputed. But the story fooled people anyway.
Besides the new disputed news tag, Facebook is also understood to be building a database containing information of websites that have made a name for themselves as fake news outlets.
"They're gonna run out of flags", joked one Facebook user. Conscious of the potential for not only ad revenue through clicks, but also the ability to mould the news narrative, money-seekers and those with a (usually political) agenda have become skilled in flooding the social network with sensational, scary stories that are simply not true.
Concerns about fake news and its unfettered spread across social media platforms began to dog Facebook after the 2016 election.
In the near future, more updates will make reporting hoaxes easier, watch for trends in fake news articles and block financial incentives for spammers.
Fake news creates significant public confusion about current events with almost one-fourth of Americans saying they have shared a fake news story, according to a Pew Research Center survey. President Trump has famously, repeatedly used the term "fake news" to dismiss criticism by the press, usually in all caps.
Facebook users can flag a fake news story by clicking on a gray downward arrow button on the right side of an article.