If you spend any time on Facebook, chances are you’ll see dozens of stories shared by friends and family in your news feed.
After the Presidential Election, however, it was also clear that many of the stories were from fake news sites. In an announcement in December, Facebook released a few new tools that would combat the fake news sites. Some of the new tools will:
-make it easier for users to flag fake news
-properly display stories that have been disputed
-use third-party fact checking more in the news feed.
In a Q&A on Poynter.org, Director of the International Fact-Checking Network Alexios Mantzarlis wrote that Facebook will allow verified fact-checkers to review stories on the platform. The fact-checkers will use a fact-checker code of principles, which Facebook has endorsed as the standard to root out fake news on the platform.
Also this week, Facebook announced some updates to its trending section to root out fake news, which include surfacing the name of the publisher.
While it’s unclear how many posts have been flagged as fake news yet or if there is an impact on publisher traffic, these new tools ideally should help local newsrooms reporting on local issues.
In addition to the publisher name surfacing in the trending news section, Facebook will also identify trending topics in a region, and everyone in that region will see the same topics.
For many publishers and newsrooms focused primarily on local or regional topics, there should be no impact on traffic as a result of these changes. And for newsrooms who are accurately reporting events as they occur in their community, fact-checkers will have no problem with those stories shared on Facebook.
Given that a majority of publishers rely on Facebook referrals for anywhere from 20 to 30 percent of overall traffic, anything that surfaces accurate unbiased reporting should be considered an improvement.