Facebook and Google Are Testing Tools to Fight Fake News

Updates might also help break through filter bubbles

Since the U.S. presidential election, Facebook has been criticized for allowing fake news to thrive. - Credit by Photo Illustration: Yuliya Kim; Sources: Getty Images
Headshot of Marty Swant

In order to help users see different perspectives in terms of news and opinions, Facebook has begun testing a feature to show users a variety of articles before they click on one to read.

Today, the social network announced it’s trying a new way to show Related Articles, which have traditionally only appeared after a user has read a story from a particular website. The feature—which originally appeared in 2013—is Facebook’s latest attempt at addressing the widespread complaints about its role in allowing fake news and filter bubbles to thrive.

The feature, which will begin rolling out in a test format today, will show additional articles for various topics shared within the news feed inside of a unit below the main piece of content. The company said it’s meant to provide “easier access to additional perspectives and information,” which could include articles from third-party fact-checkers.

“One of our main goals is to support an informed community on Facebook,” Sara Su, news feed product manager, wrote in a blog post published today. “This includes helping people have conversations about the news and giving people more ways to see a more complete picture of a story or topic.”

According to Su, pages shouldn’t see major changes in how much reach they get, and since it’s only a test, the feature won’t appear in every user’s news feed.

Facebook isn’t the only tech company making changes to help fight fake news. Today, Google announced it’s altering its search engine algorithm to downplay content that it deems to be “blatantly misleading, low quality, offensive or downright false information” while surfacing higher quality content.

The search giant said it’s made changes to the signals used to push low-quality content down in rankings while also developing more tools for humans to report when they see something that is offensive or not true. (According to Google, around 0.25 percent of queries in Google’s daily traffic have returned offensive or misleading content.)

“While this problem is different from issues in the past, our goal remains the same—to provide people with access to relevant information from the most reliable sources available,” Ben Gomes, Google’s vp of engineering, wrote in a blog post published today. “And while we may not always get it right, we’re making good progress in tackling the problem. But in order to have long-term and impactful changes, more structural changes in Search are needed.”

@martyswant martin.swant@adweek.com Marty Swant is a former technology staff writer for Adweek.
Publish date: April 25, 2017 https://dev.adweek.com/digital/facebook-and-google-are-testing-tools-to-fight-fake-news/ © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT