“We take misinformation seriously,” Zuckerberg wrote in a post on Saturday. “We know people want accurate information. We’ve been working on this problem for a long time and we take this responsibility seriously.”
Zuckerberg said that the company has “relied on our community to help us understand what is fake and what is not”, citing a tool to report false links and shared material from fact-checking sites. “Similar to clickbait, spam and scams, we penalize [misinformation] in News Feed so it’s much less likely to spread,” he wrote.
On Saturday, Zuckerberg called the problem “complex, both technically and philosophically” and said the company erred “on the side of letting people share what they want whenever possible”.
“We do not want to be arbiters of truth ourselves, but instead rely on our community and trusted third parties.”
Facebook has “reached out” to “respected fact-checking organizations” for third-party verification, Zuckerberg said, though he did not provide specifics. He said the company also planned to make reporting false stories easier and to create “better technical systems to detect what people will flag as false before they do it themselves”.
Zuckerberg also said Facebook would experiment with warning labels on stories, and try to better screen the quality of links in the “related articles” section, where the site has linked to false conspiracy theories about the September 11 attacks and Michelle Obama, among others.
He also said the company was “looking into disrupting the economics” of fake news, conceding that misinformation was driven, at least in part, by people profiting off of Facebook’s ad mechanics.
While the CEO made it clear Facebook will continue to “rely on our community and trusted third parties,” he knows “people want accurate information.” So, the company plans to make some changes.
Zuckerberg outlined seven projects he said are underway to stop the spread of misinformation among Facebook’s 1.79 billion users worldwide:
- Improve detection
- Make it easier for users to report false news
- Third-party verification
- Labeling stories as false
- Insuring “quality” news appears in the News Feed
- Crack down on ads with misinformation
- Work with journalists to develop better fact-checking systems