If you’ve been anywhere near media, it’s hard not to know about all of the recent fake news stories circulating throughout the internet. Apparently, we’re living in a world where erroneous news stories, things like “alternative facts,” and intentionally deceptive clickbait are the latest formats used to rebrand what otherwise would be known as propaganda. With over 1.7 billion users each month, Facebook is a site where enormous swathes of the population are exposed to both imaginary or ground-breaking stories at any given time. Now, the social media giant is rolling out new signals to identify authentic content in the feeds of users. This inauthentic content is dangerous to citizens, but it’s also dangerous to your business and we’ll explore why, as well as what the social media site is doing to resist fake news.
How Facebook is Helping Resist Fake News
Realistically, fake news has been around since people and the power structures of their societies became intertwined with written language, so it almost comes as no surprise that propaganda would find its way onto our social media sites. When accusations that Facebook may have actually helped Donald Trump seize the U.S. presidential election began surfacing, CEO Mark Zuckerberg originally called the idea “crazy.” The sway Facebook had in this election is still understudied from a variety of perspectives, yet on January 31st it was announced that the site would be doubling down on weeding out fake news stories and related content. In a Facebook Newsroom post, researchers wrote:
“With this update, we’re adding new universal signals to determine whether a post might be authentic. To do this, we categorized Pages to identify whether or not they were posting spam or trying to game feed by doing things like asking for likes, comments or shares. We then used posts from these Pages to train a model that continuously identifies whether posts from other Pages are likely to be authentic. For example, if Page posts are often being hidden by people reading them, that’s a signal that it might not be authentic.”
These signals will be adjusted in real-time in order to tell how actual people are responding to the content, rather than bots and other forms of manipulation. This improvement comes after Facebook added the name of a publisher beneath the headlines Trending topics, as well as the December announcement that the improved ability to flag hoaxes will make it easier to resist fake news alongside the work of human fact-checkers.
The blog assures users that “most Pages won’t see any significant changes to their distribution in News Feed,” so long as your business doesn’t profit off of the promulgation of fake news. Otherwise, it really just comes down to understanding the context of any information you share, where it came from, and what facts can be verified, along with the potential motives behind creating such content in the first place.
It’s important to understand that “fake news” is not merely something you disagree with – it’s information that is intentionally deceptive and fraught with malign statements. Don’t let your blog or business share propaganda and do what you can to resist fake news – no one has a budget for lies unless it’s the core of your enterprise. You know who you are.