back to article Facebook folds fake news flag: We're not disputing that

A year after deciding to fight fake news with a "Disputed" flag – backed, we were assured, by an army of fact-checkers – Facebook has decided it doesn't work, and will instead apply tweaks to how "Related Content" is handled. The "Disputed" flag came into being last December, less than a month after Mark Zuckerberg declared …

  1. David Gosnell

    For all the times I ever saw such items on Facebook (obviously quite often)...

    ... I only ever found a relevant reporting option approximately twice. It might have been three times. They obviously never were remotely serious about this working, just a bit of lip-service to TPTB.

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Re: For all the times I ever saw such items on Facebook (obviously quite often)...

      I don't remember ever seeing the flag, but it was probably there now and then and I just didn't notice it. Unless you are looking for it, who is going to notice a tiny little red flag on article amongst all the other crap in Facebook's UI?

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: For all the times I ever saw such items on Facebook (obviously quite often)...

        maybe people who are on Faece-b[itch,ook] need to (learn how to) do their OWN fact checking?

        OK the intellectual laziness that appears to be inherent with a majority of FB users (the ones that trust FB for news, anyway) probably precludes that possibility. But I can always hope [in spite of the apparent facts] that news readers would be at least a *little* skeptical of *any* news story, and want to dig into it a bit more, do some fact checking, etc..

        /me laments that "feelies" feel instead of think, or even CAN'T think, and so do not fact check anything.

        It's my opinion that half the fun of a good news story is doing a little online research after reading it, and not simply believing everything it says, simply because it preaches to the choir or fulfills "wishful thinking" or, worse, "panders to the perception". 'El Reg' style comments also fun, but the larger news outlets couldn't handle the volume...

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Sometimes different news sources show conflicting perspectives on the same story"

    This years "No Shit Sherlock" award goes to.... Facebook

    Which clown at facebook wrote that? Captain Obvious?

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Which clown at facebook wrote that?

      I presume the one that realised "if you believe this, you're as thick as mince" would have an adverse effect on Facebook's revenue.

  3. Semtex451 Silver badge
    Coat

    Sorry I must be living in a cave

    People ....want to get news...... from Facebook?

    1. Dan 63

      Re: Sorry I must be living in a cave

      Presumably the same people who think publications such as the Sun and Daily Mail also contain news.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Sorry I must be living in a cave

        "publications such as the Sun and Daily Mail also contain news."

        occasionally they do. A broken clock is right twice a day.

    2. jaywin

      Re: Sorry I must be living in a cave

      > People ....want to get news...... from Facebook?

      It's the same people who want to get it from hour long videos on YouTube.

    3. Captain DaFt

      Re: Sorry I must be living in a cave

      People ....want to get news...... from Facebook?

      I know, right?

      Facebook should be required to have a banner across the top of every page that reads:

      WARNING!

      Facebook is a social site, open to all.

      Getting your news from Facebook is equivalent to getting it from bar gossips and loonies on street corners, ranting at traffic.

  4. VinceH Silver badge
    Meh

    Am I the only one disappointed that the headline didn't end after the second word?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Let me translate that for you..

    Using actual humans to do any checking goes against our core values of making as much money as possible (humans cost more). We ran it for a while to get the noise down and now feel confident to scrap that cost to go back to the business of scraping as much money out of this as we possibly can before someone else comes up with a costly idea we cannot avoid.

    I think that ought to just about cover it.

  6. Cubical Drone

    "This is particularly problematic in countries with very few fact-checkers, where the volume of potentially false news stories and the limited capacity of the fact-checkers made it difficult for us to get ratings from multiple fact-checkers,"

    Don't bother trying to make a list of the countries this statement applies to, they don't make a pad of paper that big.

    1. Captain DaFt

      "This is particularly problematic in countries with very few fact-checkers, where the volume of potentially false news stories and the limited capacity of the fact-checkers made it difficult for us to get ratings from multiple fact-checkers,"

      Don't bother trying to make a list of the countries this statement applies to, they don't make a pad of paper that big.

      There are only 249 Country Codes in the ISO Standard List, other lists of countries list fewer.

      So, the list of countries that apply (All of them) would fit on five sheets of A4 paper, one per line, with the title "Countries with very few fact-checkers" at the top of the first page.

      (My silly bit of pedantry for the day) ☺

      1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
        Windows

        The list gets longer when you add regions that have declared independence in disputed elections, armed insurgencies that have claimed nation-state status, other groups that want to join one of the first two categories, vociferous troublemakers and miscellaneous muttering mendicants.

  7. Bob Dole (tm)
    Headmaster

    Detecting Fake News is hard

    Regardless of how many people you throw at this, combating fake news is hard. Especially fake news that might have some pretty good funding behind it.

    When FB first announced their attempt, I was actually surprised. Fake News has been around at least since the early 1900s - pre WW I when the Brit government started giving fake news stories to various newspapers decrying the Germans. TBH, it's probably been around for as long as people have been able to talk to each other.

    So, I just try to live be a few simple rules when reading the news:

    - If it's in the news then someone likely paid for it to be there. Unless it's a major event happening right now.

    - Is the piece itself obviously slanted or is it "in print" to generate certain emotions in order to support other related articles?

    - Does the piece have verifiable facts?

    - Does it even sound true based on the other things I know?

    As much as I don't like FB I give them Kuddos for trying where far older institutions have failed miserably.

    1. emullinsabq
      Holmes

      Re: Detecting Fake News is hard

      No it's easy to detect real news.

      If you read a small paragraph and it leaves you feeling informed, but bored, it is real.

      If you read a story and aren't clapping or screaming, it is real.

      If the story doesn't have phone footage*, it might be real

      If the story isn't primarily about what someone wrote on twitter, it might be real.

      If the article can be summarized in two sentences, but the article is 3 pages of what people think, it is fake.

      * This might require clarification. I don't mean to suggest that poor phone footage is inherently false, but rather that if that is the basis of the story, it probably isn't news at all. eg. someone records a fight in a mall, and someone actually thought that was newsworthy, because omg, shitty video.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Detecting Fake News is hard

      Stopping fake news is easy.

      Just stop using social media for news.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Detecting Fake News is hard

        Alas, I wish it were that easy. Major newspapers and news outlets don't seem to be any more accurate or informed, with reporters interviewing each other to get opinions and then publishing those opinions as fact just because they don't have enough real news -- or hiring professional pundits to champion an issue, interviewing them, then presenting those one-sided views as though they were objective facts.

        I have no problems with news outlets publishing editorials pushing a viewpoint, even if I disagree with their views, but when they publish their editorials as fact, then other outlets pick it up and republish as fact without checking the original sources, the news is just as fake as an article written in a Moscow cellar for publication in the western press.

        News should inform. It should present the facts** and let you draw your own conclusions. If the article tries to tell you what to think then it is either an editorial or "fake news", and an editorial presented as news is just as fake.

        ** An organisation that only presents one side of an issue, or intentionally omits facts that run contrary to their bias can certainly still be a news organization. It is when they make things up that they become fake. That is why an informed person gets their information from more than one source.

        1. Rob Gr

          Re: Detecting Fake News is hard

          Chomsky and Herman's Manufacturing Consent (1988) illustrated that Western media has always been guilty of the sin of omission, and is manipulated by political parties to "frame a debate". I find it unlikely there has ever been a newspaper that just prints "facts", without having some filter of the vested interests of the owners.

      2. Frank Fisher

        Re: Detecting Fake News is hard

        Do you think Trump was unable to feed carp properly?

      3. Rob Gr

        Re: Detecting Fake News is hard

        To really stop reading fake news, you'd pretty well have to stop reading news.

        However, some outlets of news seem to make no attempt at actually providing news. Social media and the UK tabloids spring to mind.

    3. Kabukiwookie Silver badge

      Re: Detecting Fake News is hard

      "Fake News has been around at least since the early 1900s."

      I vaguely remember hearing some story about some Greeks who left a wooden horse behind somewhere in Turkey a bit longer ago than that and telling everyone they were going home.

    4. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Detecting Fake News is hard

      "Fake News has been around at least since the early 1900s"

      It's like, how long have supermarket tabloids been around? "UFO's ate my puppy" etc.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Who could be bothered...

    ...with Facebook?

  9. Frank Fisher

    More fake news on the MSM than on facebook

    How many people saw the entire media claiming Trump didn't know how to feed carp, or that he'd claimed Sweden had had a terrorist attack, when it hadn't? Totally fake. Totally mainstream generated.

    Basically believe nothing unless you see it with your own eyes.

  10. DCFusor Silver badge

    Well, that's disputed

    What *I* heard was that the stories tagged as fake were actually shared a lot more - not as the article said about the tag having no effect.

    When the "liberals"* call it fake, it only means it doesn't agree with their confirmation bias, and is therefore _more_ likely to be real, not less, at least in many eyes.

    In my own experience, for events at which I was present, there's little correlation between what happened and what was reported in the official news. Ever. This includes my time working in the intelligence community where we had some access to data the rest of the world did not.

    No relation. Or, more accurately, it's all public relations. Buy that soap! Believe your government cares about your welfare. Pay those taxes. And so on.

    *liberals for example invented the idea of political correctness, regardless of actually being correct. That's not liberal - that's more restrictive - I have to think their way.

    Liberals make up the majority of controlling interest at FB and in the Deep State they serve.

    I promise you that exactly zero news marked as fake was pro conservative (not that conservatives are conservative anymore than liberals are liberal - both defy the dictionary). Of course, this is only obvious to those who have a brain and pay attention using an attention span longer than a goldfish.

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