Facebook Unveils New Censorship Plan
Stories that Jews deem to be “fake news” will be automatically flagged and moved to the bottom of your timeline, where they unlikely to be read or even seen.
Editor’s Introduction: Facebook will now decide for you whether or not information posted to your timeline is “fake news,” and effectively moved off screen, for Facebook-approved news, which will be as visible as ever. Here’s what controlled media publication Forbes magazine (they are delighted that censorship has begun) reported today:
THE NEW PROTOCOL, which will be rolled out in Germany first, is simple; new tools for users will allow them to flag links as potential fake news. This will prompt an independent fact-checking organisation, Correctiv, to verify the article’s veracity.
If they deem to it to be fake news, then the link is given a ‘disputed’ badge and shunted down to the bottom of your newsfeed.
It’s a clever, pragmatic solution that will have an immediate impact on fake news, which is important given that Germany has an election coming up.
But I can see potential flashpoints with Facebook’s new tools that might blunt their effectiveness.
The Disputed Badge Will Become a Badge of Honour
The Facebook pages that spread fake news and the people that share it revel in being anti-establishment. If their posts are routinely flagged with ‘disputed’ then they’ll wear that as a badge of honour.
They’ll complain that the establishment, backed by the boogeyman mainstream media, is trying to silence dissenters and whoever supports their cause. That the establishment is trying to shut down debate and hide the truth, which plays perfectly into the fake news agenda.
The communities these organisations create are a large part of why they’re so successful. It’s not just that some people are duped by fake news, it’s also that they want to believe it. It’s confirmation bias.
Of course, not everyone is an ideological zealot. Many people are simply fooled into sharing an article they thought was true and will accept that it’s not. But many willingly play their role in the creation and spread of fake news.
People Will Flag Real News as Fake News
Within the above example, retaliation is a likely possibility. Armies of believers who feel slighted by Facebook’s ‘intrusion’ will likely seek revenge by flagging mainstream media articles as fake news.
There’s also the people who steadfastly believe that established media outlets are little more than puppets of the government. That’s not entirely without merit (which is a debate for another day), but expect people with differing opinions to CNN to flag their content as fake.
I do wonder how well equipped the fact-checkers are to handle a deluge of requests, too. They could be buried in requests they can’t keep up with, or, alternatively, a new independent fact-checking industry could be born.
Check out how I bought Reddit’s front page with fake news
It will become clear that making these posts less visible is the only real solution.
I hope that making it clear to users that the content they’re reading is fake will put a dent in the fake news problem. But, as I’ve laid out above, that could very well not be the case.
Part of the German Facebook experiment includes making stories marked as ‘disputed’ appear lower in newsfeeds. I suspect this will have the greatest impact on tackling fake news. If it can’t be seen, then it can’t spread and the organisations can’t make money.
This, of course, brings with it other headaches. Namely, Facebook having the power to determine what isn’t ‘acceptable’ news, which is not a road anyone wants to go down. However, having the backing of an independent, non-profit, investigative journalism fact-checking group does alleviate those concerns.
The time I’ve spent looking into fake news and the people that believe/share it tells me that it’s an entirely unpredictable beast that’s hard to control. Facebook will have to adapt its tools quickly to make sure its solution remains relevant. On a wider note, to truly tackle fake news, society needs to trust the media again and people need to apply critical thinking to every bit of information they receive. The latter two points aren’t solved overnight, but at least we’ve finally started that journey.
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