Facebook Scraps ‘Disputed’ Fake News Tag, Claims ‘Opposite Effect to What We Intended’


Social media giant Facebook will no longer be marking news stories as “disputed” because the company says people are more likely to believe possibly inaccurate news stories carrying the tag.

Business Insider UK reports that Facebook will no longer be marking news stories with a “disputed” tag, a measure introduced this year in an attempt to crack down on “fake news” on their platform. The tag was meant to make Facebook users question the source of the information they were reading, however, most users seemed to double down on believing the information in “disputed” articles due to the tag assigned by Facebook.

Facebook published two posts on their blog recently, both mentioning that the tag would soon be dropped. One of the posts reads:

Academic research on correcting misinformation has shown that putting a strong image, like a red flag, next to an article may actually entrench deeply held beliefs — the opposite effect to what we intended. Related Articles, by contrast, are simply designed to give more context, which our research has shown is a more effective way to help people get to the facts. Indeed, we’ve found that when we show Related Articles next to a false news story, it leads to fewer shares than when the Disputed Flag is shown.

In another post published on the blogging platform Medium by three Facebook staffers working to prevent the spread of what they consider to be fake news on the platform, the staffers explained that giving more context to stories led to a sharp drop in the spread of allegedly fake news and that adding related articles to a disputed story was more effective than just branding it with a tag:

During these tests, we learned that although click-through rates on the hoax article don’t meaningfully change between the two treatments, we did find that the Related Articles treatment led to fewer shares of the hoax article than the disputed flag treatment.

The three staffers claim that academic research shows that further context given to fake news could help to “reduce misperceptions.” Facebook will still continue using other methods to crack down on what they call fake news, such as using fact-checkers to verify stories and reduce the number of false articles shared on the platform, as well as sending alerts to users that share disputed articles with extra content providing context to the story that they shared.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan_ or email him at lnolan@breitbart.com.


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