Facebook rolls out new measure to combat fake news

Facebook has introduced its latest measure to combat the fake news problem - red warning labels that appear when a user attempts to post a link to a suspected fake news story.
Facebook has introduced its latest measure to combat the fake news problem - red warning labels that appear when a user attempts to post a link to a suspected fake news story.PHOTO: AFP

There may not be a Facebook user left who has not fallen prey to some form of fake news being shared.

To combat the problem, Facebook promised last December that it would be introducing some new measures, including allowing users to manually report articles and using third-party fact checkers.

The newest measure to have got off the ground is the flagging of dodgy links as "disputed".

When a user attempts to share a link to a story that is suspected to be fake news, Facebook immediately displays a large red "disputed" icon at the bottom of the post's pop-up window.

Online publication Quartz provided a demonstration of how the new measure works using as an example a story that falsely claimed that thousands of Irish people were brought to the United States as slaves.

If the red warning label is ignored, Facebook provides a second prompt telling the user that the story in question has been "disputed by multiple, independent fact-checkers".

The user will then have to click "Post anyway" to share the suspected piece of fake news on Facebook.

However, the new feature does not appear to have been rolled out en masse yet, and seems to be available only for limited users or regions.

No red warning label was produced when The Straits Times tested for the new feature using some fake news articles from various disputed sites, including with the identical Irish slaves story.

Facebook came under fire last year for its role in propagating a spate of fake news and hoaxes related to the US presidential elections, including one story claiming that the Pope had endorsed then Republican candidate Donald Trump.

Closer to home, the headline of an ST article on Facebook was doctored by a third-party last December to falsely claim President Tony Tan had invited the then newly crowned Thai king to visit Singapore to eat Kentucky Fried Chicken.