Facebook wants to help you understand news better
LAST week, Facebook launched a new feature aimed at combating the spread of fake or misleading news by providing context for the articles they get served through the social network’s News Feed.
According to a statement from the company, the new tool is meant to help users make informed decisions and read news within the context of greater issues. The context that is included alongside the articles will “[reflect] feedback from [Facebook’s] community, including many publishers who collaborated on its development as part of our work through the Facebook Journalism Project,” the statement said.
The feature manifests itself as an “i” button that can be tapped by users as they access additional information without being redirected to external pages. Information such as the Facebook page of the original user who posted the article, Wikipedia pages and Related Articles will be offered to users. Facebook said that in some cases, such additional information may not be obviously missing, which is where the magic of context comes into play.
“Helping people access this important contextual information can help them evaluate if articles are from a publisher they trust and if the story itself is credible,” said the company, who added that this is just the beginning and they will be working off feedback from their users.
Facebook is currently in the middle of a hotly debated issue of the role and responsibilities social media sites play in curating and policing how users use their platform. Investigations in the US are currently underway to determine the impact of the platform on the recent presidential election, though similar conversations are also being had about other sites such as Twitter.
The platform came under fire after the shock election of US President Donald Trump and was singled out as the biggest contributor to the spread of unverified and untruthful information. Despite initial denials of Facebook’s outsized role in the election outcome, founder Mark Zuckerberg promised the company would be working towards improving the quality of media moving through their platform.
In the years since its founding, Facebook has become of the top 20 news organizations, according to the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, which also reported in 2015 that Facebook referrals grew annually by 42 percent.
According to Business Insider, the proliferation of “malicious content” – that is information that is untrustworthy or untrue – and multiple data breaches have shaken the “digital trust” of users in social media. The phenomenon has resulted in widespread distrust in these social media platforms and has resulted in many brands pulling advertising from ad-reliant platforms such as Facebook.
By including this feature, Facebook may be heading off potential further falls in ad revenue by ensuring that their clients’ advertising does not appear alongside negative or fake news, as well as building in more safeguards to ensure the dissemination of reliable news instead.
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