Facebook, which has been under withering criticism for the amount of fake news spread by its users, announced on Thursday that they are adding an “educational tool” to help users spot fake news.
The announcement was made by Facebook news feed VP Adam Mosseri in a blog post:
“As part of our ongoing efforts, we’ve worked in consultation with First Draft, a non-profit dedicated to improving skills and standards in the reporting and sharing of information online, to roll out an educational tool to help people spot false news. We’re featuring this tool at the top of News Feed for a few days to people on Facebook in 14 countries.
When people click on this educational tool at the top of their News Feed, they will see more information and resources in the Facebook Help Center, including tips on how to spot false news, such as checking the URL of the site, investigating the source and looking for other reports on the topic.
News Feed is a place for authentic communication. Improving news literacy is a global priority, and we need to do our part to help people understand how to make decisions about which sources to trust.
False news runs counter to our mission to connect people with the stories they find meaningful. We will continue working on this and we know we have more work to do.”
Facebook has realized that fake news is too easily spread by it’s 1.86 billion monthly users, and it has been taking steps in recent months to try and combat it. In December the social media juggernaut announced that they were partnering with Snopes, Politifact, ABC News and FactCheck.org to help them spot fake news. That might have been just fine if they hadn’t chosen so many liberal leaning organizations to work with, making it appear that they blame conservatives for the fake news scourge plaguing its site.
Then it was announced this week that Facebook was helping to fund the News Integrity Initiative, which “will address the problems of misinformation, disinformation and the opportunities the internet provides to inform the public conversation in new ways,” according to Facebook’s head of news partnerships Campbell Brown.
These efforts are likely to have minimal impact on the spread of fake news. Even if you educate users on how to spot fake news, it is virtually impossible to stop it from spreading unless Facebook prevents any story deemed fake from being shared by its users. Even then, that won’t stop the production of fake news by those who profit from it. It will only stop when using Facebook and other social media platforms to spread fake news becomes unprofitable, and that would mean sacrificing precious ad dollars, which they are generally unwilling to do.