Facebook has come under fire since the election for being a platform for so-called “fake news,” which Democrats have suggested may have turned the vote against Hillary Clinton. The war on fake news is a transparent attempt on the part of the mainstream media to save face, but it is what it is. Facebook has made little attempt to hide their political biases, and they aren’t about to start now. Instead, they are rolling out a “fact-checking” system intended to make sure users are getting the truth. What could go wrong?
On Friday, Adam Mosseri, the vice-president of the Facebook News Feed division, released a statement explaining how the social media site would address the problem of “fake news” going forward.
“We believe in giving people a voice and that we cannot become arbiters of truth ourselves, so we’re approaching this problem carefully,” Mosseri wrote. “We’ve focused our efforts on the worst of the worst, on the clear hoaxes spread by spammers for their own gain, and on engaging both our community and third party organizations.”
This is an obvious attempt to get everyone to let their guard down. Oh, we’re not going to be censoring Drudge Report and Breitbart and Conservative Free Press; we’re going after the absolute nonsense. They want us to think they only intend to stop blatant hoax-stories like “Pope Endorses Trump!” But where will they draw the line?
According to Mosseri, that job will be given to two entities: The users themselves and an independent fact-checking service.
“We’re testing several ways to make it easier to report a hoax if you see one on Facebook, which you can do by clicking the upper right hand corner of a post,” he wrote. “We’ve relied heavily on our community for help on this issue, and this can help us detect more fake news.”
What happens when enough people flag a story as fraudulent?
“We’ve started a program to work with third-party fact checking organizations that are signatories of Poynter’s International Fact Checking Code of Principles,” he wrote. “We’ll use the reports from our community, along with other signals, to send stories to these organizations. If the fact checking organizations identify a story as fake, it will get flagged as disputed and there will be a link to the corresponding article explaining why. Stories that have been disputed may also appear lower in News Feed.”
Last year, conservatives exploded with anger when former Facebook employees blew the whistle on the site, explaining how it was very difficult for right-leaning websites to gain traction in the news feed. In an effort to control the situation, Mark Zuckerberg sat down with conservative media icons to listen to their concerns and bring fairness back to the Facebook feed.
Now it looks like we’re headed back in the other direction. We’ll see if Facebook can limit its flagging system to actual fake news…or if this is just the first step on the road to liberal censorship.