It’s been six months and counting, and an estimated 50M Republicans still believe that Trump won the 2020 election. That the January 6 rioters who stormed the capitol with the intent to hang the Vice President and kill House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were “really just behaving like normal tourists”. According to Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, the Capitol attack was largely a “peaceful protest.” Really?
Facebook steps up with informational alerts
Facebook is taking another step to reduce the spread of misinformation that includes increased user penalties. Facebook has partnered with independent, third-party fact-checking teams, and it touts its use of artificial intelligence (AI) to automate the fact-checking process.
A Facebook popup warns users about the possibility of misinformation
Facebook has launched a new popup alerting visitors to a Facebook Page that this page may be sharing false information, as per fact-checkers. The popup clearly communicates that because a Page has shared questionable content in the past, there is the distinct possibility that current content may be incorrect.
“We want to give people more information before they like a Page that has repeatedly shared content that fact-checkers have rated. You can also click to learn more, including that fact-checkers said some posts shared by this Page include false information and a link to more information about our fact-checking program. This will help users make informed decisions about whether they want to follow the Page.”
Upping the penalties for distributing misinformation
“We will reduce the distribution of all posts in News Feed from an individual’s Facebook account if they repeatedly share content that has been rated by one of our fact-checking partners. We already reduce a single post’s reach in News Feed if it has been debunked.”
Limiting the News Feed reach will stir up the Facebook conspiracy theorists and those who believe the platform has no right to stop their sharing whatever they like on the platform. What happens is pretty dramatic: Facebook and Instagram networks–more than 4B users/month, will stop seeing their posts if they keep sharing phony conspiracy theories and misinformed reports. These users likely will perceive this as censorship and loss of their freedoms, with big brother controlling the flow of information.
Facebook is right to act
Their fact-checkers ensure that false information is being flagged and removed where possible to reduce its spread and stop the use of the Facebook/Instagram network to amplify misinformation and its hateful, violent narratives.
Misinformation has become even more unrelenting of late
Misinformation about the Covid vaccine is slowing the broader recovery efforts. Facebook and Instagram are operating the largest interconnected, most influential network of humans in history. It’s important that they assume a leadership role, take action and attempt to disrupt and manage the flow of misinformation.
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