In an exercise of futility and hopeless labor, that will no doubt rival the punishment of Sisyphus, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is changing direction on a commitment he made last month that the company will not try to be “an arbiter of truth” when it comes to content posted by its 1.8 billion users.
The company faced criticism that it failed to counteract the spread of false political stories during the U.S. presidential election.
“Facebook is mounting an effort to censor fake news and hoaxes on its newsfeed to help mitigate the spread of misinformation across the Internet,” company Vice President Adam Mosseri reported to Historic City News today. “We’ve relied heavily on our community for help on this issue, and this can help us detect more fake news.”
To reach this probably unreachable dream, Facebook executives have announced that they will enlist a third-party fact checking service to help the site identify false claims in articles, referred to as “fake news”.
If determined by the fact-checker, Facebook will “flag” certain articles and issue a warning to those with whom it has been shared, indicating that the information is disputed.
Originally, Zuckerberg said he favored “giving people a voice, which means erring on the side of letting people share what they want” regardless of opinion. However, Zuckerberg ultimately approved the site’s new goal.
Among the announced changes will be a feature, similar to the “Like” button, that will make it easier for users to report “fake news”. So, as Facebook enters the business of news arbitration, the company may find that they shot the goose that laid the golden egg. Ad settings will be adjusted, Facebook claims, in such a way as to cripple the financial incentives of “fake news”.