Facebook Bring in 'Disputed' Label to Tackle Fake News

Facebook seem to have finally settled on a definitive method to deal with the fake news controversies which have been plaguing them since Trump's election. The site has been repeatedly accused of not only ineffectively dealing with fake news stories, but for inadvertently circulating them, with some going so far as to say that Trump wouldn't even be president right now if it hadn't been for that.

Now, after months of 'we got this', something substantial finally seems to have emerged. The company have introduced a 'disputed' label which flags dodgy stories with an exclamation point, warning readers that the content has been found to be suspect by fact checking websites.

Of course, saying a story is 'disputed' isn't the same as saying it's false, but if Facebook start putting a label which says 'NOTHING BUT DIRTY LIES' over every fake story, or words to that effect, the question arises - why not just ban fake stories?

Sometimes fake stories can be posted completely innocently, as is the case with parody sites like News Thump, or even some of the content published on The Onion. Algorithms - those things Facebook like to think are a suitable replacement for human beings - can't tell the difference. If you go by a flagging/reporting system, malicious users will simply start flagging real stories, and the whole thing falls apart before it even rolls off the assembly line.

Even in this case, concerned users and dedicated software are the two things which see a post being referred on to a fact checking site. This process doesn't necessarily allow for the mistaken banning of real news, since there's an extra layer, but it is still very arbitrary. Two or more of these sites (Snopes, Politfacts, etc), have to agree before a story can be flagged. This takes time, it goes without saying.

All this really means is that a fact checking in system is in place, but it will always be a few months behind, which in the eyes of some makes it almost completely pointless. Facebook still have a hell of a mountain to climb if they want to deal with this issue effectively, and roping in fact checkers sadly isn't enough to really build up any momentum.

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