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Facebook recruits some help to fight fakes, but doubles down on wisdom of the crowd

Fact-checking orgs can expect a call from The Zuck Squad

By Simon Sharwood, 20 Nov 2016

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg appears to have decided that the wisdom of the crowd has its limits.

In his second post in a week on how The Social Network™ plans to tackle fake news, Zuckerberg says Facebook users want accurate information and explains that the site's approach has always been to offer users tools they can use to report dodgy content.

“We do not want to be arbiters of truth ourselves,” he writes, “but instead rely on our community and trusted third parties.”

And the number of trusted third parties is growing.

Zuckerberg says “We will continue to work with journalists and others in the news industry to get their input, in particular, to better understand their fact checking systems and learn from them.”

He also plans “Third party verification.”

“There are many respected fact checking organizations and, while we have reached out to some, we plan to learn from many more,” Zuckerberg writes.

The CEO's post also reveals the company is “exploring” warnings that will label stories “that have been flagged as false by third parties or our community, and showing warnings when people read or share them.”. There's also news that Facebook is working on “better technical systems to detect what people will flag as false before they do it themselves”. Easier reporting of fakes is also on the agenda as are further efforts aimed at “Disrupting fake news economics.”

Zuckerberg's posts are usually anodyne news about Facebook, his foundation or his recent speeches. Two posts in a week on fake news suggests criticism of Facebook as a possible polluter of political debate is exercising his mind.

He's clearly committed, however, to making Facebook's users the site's editors.

Consulting more widely with fact checkers and journalists may therefore help the company to tweak its news feed, but Zuckerberg's post leaves no doubt the company's aim remains to keep you on Facebook for as long as it can. ®

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