The social media giant has created a new tool that will allow fact-checkers at Snopes, Politifact, FactCheck.org, ABC News and The Associated Press to evaluate stories that are either flagged by Facebook users or meet the characteristics of a fake news data profile built by Facebook (e.g. low share numbers after the story is clicked).
If deemed inaccurate, Facebook will label the story with a "disputed" tag, along with a link to an article explaining why it is false. Those stories will then appear lower in the Facebook News Feed and carry the label whenever they're posted or shared. Readers who try to share them will also receive a warning about their content. A "disputed" label can be appealed directly to the fact-checking organisation.
In the weeks since the election, Facebook has come under fire for not doing enough to halt the spread of fake news, which critics believe contributed, in part, to Donald Trump's victory. These sites often have real-sounding names (for example: abcnews.com.co), can earn creators thousands of dollars a month in ad revenue and rely heavily on Facebook for traffic.
Despite a damming Buzzfeed News analysis that tracked the flow of fake news originating on Facebook, founder Mark Zuckerberg originally shrugged off the problem. But following more news reports, he eventually said, "we take misinformation seriously" and that Facebook was looking into ways to combat the problem.
"We have a responsibility to reduce the spread of fake news on our platform," said Adam Mosseri, Facebook's vice president of product development. He explained that the new system, which will only be available to a fraction of U.S. users to start, will focus on "bottom of the barrel" sites that are purposely disseminating fake news, or designed to impersonate legitimate news organisations. He added that articles from legitimate sites that are controversial or inaccurate should not be flagged.
Facebook is also hoping to stymie the flow of ad revenue to fake news sites by ensuring any article with a "disputed" tag cannot be used in an ad. The social media site is also working on ways to limit links from websites with home pages that primarily feature advertising, a common feature of fake news sites.
Facebook's new anti-fake news feature launches today, Thursday, but the website will continue developing and testing new strategies in the future. "We don't think it will get us all the way there," Mosseri said. "I expect it to be something we need to invest in on an ongoing basis."