SAN FRANCISCO, Jan 21 – Facebook has a new fix for fibs. The Menlo Park, California-based social media company yesterday said it has updated its service to reduce the number of hoaxes that appear in users’ news feeds. Facebook said it would step up efforts to limit circulation of bogus “news stories” in user feeds, saying it is an annoyance for members of the huge social network.
“We’ve heard from people that they want to see fewer stories that are hoaxes, or misleading news,” said Facebook’s Erich Owens and Udi Weinsberg in a blog post. “Hoaxes are a form of newsfeed spam that includes scams (‘Click here to win a lifetime supply of coffee’), or deliberately false or misleading news stories (‘Man sees dinosaur on hike in Utah’).”
The Facebook researchers said people “often share these hoaxes and later decide to delete their original posts after they realise they have been tricked.” An update to Facebook’s News Feed will aim to limit the spread of posts that have been reported as hoaxes and adds an a warning to messages that have been flagged as suspicious.
Facebook has also added an option that allows its users to report a “false news story” being circulated. The social network said the update “reduces the distribution” of these posts but does not eliminate them. “We are not removing stories people report as false and we are not reviewing content and making a determination on its accuracy,” the blog post said.
The update aims to steer clear of any effort to cut down on satirical news. “We’ve found from testing that people tend not to report satirical content intended to be humorous, or content that is clearly labeled as satire. This type of content should not be affected by this update,” the blog said. “The vast majority of publishers on Facebook will not be impacted by this update. A small set of publishers who are frequently posting hoaxes and scams will see their distribution decrease.”