Hilarious news coming out of Facebook: the social media company has announced that it will scrap its system of tagging “fake news” because it has the opposite effect “to what we intended.”
Earlier this year, Facebook started sticking the word “disputed” next to what it believes to be “misleading information.” The goal was to limit the amount of shares such “fake news articles” receive.
Academic research shows, however, that this system is actually counterproductive. As the company writes on its blog: “Academic research on correcting misinformation has shown that putting a strong image, like a red flag, next to an article may actually entrench deeply held beliefs — the opposite effect to what we intended. Related Articles, by contrast, are simply designed to give more context, which our research has shown is a more effective way to help people get to the facts.” The post went on to say, “Indeed, we’ve found that when we show Related Articles next to a false news story, it leads to fewer shares than when the Disputed Flag is shown.
In other words, when Facebook labels an article as fake, people are more inclined to believe that the article is truthful! Now that’s ironic.
In another blog post on Medium the three Facebook staffers leading the company’s “war on fake news” added:
During these tests, we learned that although click-through rates on the hoax article don’t meaningfully change between the two treatments, we did find that the Related Articles treatment led to fewer shares of the hoax article than the disputed flag treatment.
Of course, they’ll continue their war on supposedly “fake news” by other means (messaging users who share “fake news,” for example), but this particular tool will be scrapped.