Facebook Is Enlisting American Users in the Fight Against Fake News

It just revealed a handful of test features

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Facebook's going to need all the help it can get to combat fake news. 

With that in mind, the company is enlisting users to fight the good fight, revealing a five-part plan to cleanse its platform of faux publishers that make money off click-bait headlines that contain blatant untruths. The test will initially be seen by a limited faction of the platform's 156.5 million U.S. users. 

It's also partnering with Poynter's International Fact Checking Network, which includes Snopes.com, Factcheck.org, Politifact, the Associated Press and ABC News, to create a small army of fact-checkers that will constantly review news-minded items on Facebook. Additionally, the digital giant is looking to effectively deny fake news sites from amplifying their lies with news feed ads. 

Here are the five measures being rolled out:

1. You can report fake news with a couple of actions.

Some Facebook users will start seeing the option of flagging posts that come from phony sites such as 110PercentFedUp.com, ActivePost.com, ABCNews.com.co and EnduringVision.com. They can even send a message to the person who shared the post. 

2. Fact-checkers will step in.

Facebook will then utilize such reports, along with other detected fake-news signals like questionable URLs, to send stories to Poynter's network. If the fact-checkers identify a story as phony, it will get marked as disputed and be served lower in news feeds.

These stories are still shareable while containing a warning that the posts have been disputed. 


3. No ad push will be allowed.

Once a story gets flagged as potentially fake, it can't be promoted with Facebook ads.

4. Sharing signals could help.

Facebook has found that if reading an article makes people significantly less likely to share it, then that may be a sign that the story is misleading. So, it's going to test incorporating this kind of signal into its news feed ranking system for articles that appear to be outliers.

5. It's combating spammers, too.

The social platform is also eliminating spoof domains that masquerade as well-known news organizations. The aforementioned ABCNews.com.co is a good example of the phenomena.

This practice makes some fake publishers money because their links often lead directly to ads that they sell via an ad network. In theory, the prevalence of such sites pretending to be real publications will be reduced.

Gayatri Bhalla, vp of advanced solutions and product management at Infogroup, added, "In light of fake news, marketers are forced to make serious decisions about where their ads end up, but many aren't sure where to start." 

Which is why the industry will closely follow Facebook's latest actions in the months ahead. 

@Chris_Heine Christopher Heine is a New York-based editor and writer.