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Facebook is about to start a new plan of attack against fake news that will once again see it ask users for help. In a post by Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO explains that he wants the social networks’ members to determine the trustworthiness of news publications.
“The hard question we've struggled with is how to decide what news sources are broadly trusted in a world with so much division. We could try to make that decision ourselves, but that's not something we're comfortable with,” he wrote.
“We decided that having the community determine which sources are broadly trusted would be most objective.”
The system will become part of Facebook’s ongoing quality surveys. The company intends to send these to a broad range of people, asking if they’re familiar with a source and whether they consider it trustworthy.
Facebook isn’t going to release individual publishers’ scores or increase the amount of news in users’ feeds; instead, it will use the results to prioritize publications that are deemed trustworthy by the community.
The news comes after Facebook’s recent announcement that it was overhauling the newsfeed to prioritize posts from users’ family and friends. The new algorithm downgrades content from businesses, brands, and media outlets. Zuckerberg says that following this change, news content will make up around 4 percent of a user’s news feed, down from the current estimate of 5 percent.
Facebook has already tried asking users to identify fake news by flagging bogus items to stop them spreading, but the feature was discontinued last month after studies showed it often didn’t work and even made people believe the fake stories even more.
It will be interesting to see how the latest method of tackling fake news pans out. It may sound like it could work in practice, but it does rely on Facebook users trusting other users, and it may see smaller and new publishers struggling for reach.