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Facebook Says It Will Weed Out Fake News -- But Leave the Onion Alone

Facebook won't delete hoax posts, but will ask users to flag them.

Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Use Facebook to show off pictures of your dogs — or, better yet, videos of your dogs — or whatever. But don’t use it to spread bogus stories about Betty White’s death.

That’s the newest edict from Facebook, which says it is cracking down on hoaxes, scams “or deliberately false or misleading news stories.”

The social network, which has been making moves to clean up its News Feed for more than a year, now says it’s going to try to filter out bogus stories — without declaring them bogus itself.

“We are not reviewing content and making a determination on its accuracy,” says a new blog post attributed to Facebook engineer Erich Owens and research scientist Udi Weinsberg. Instead, Facebook is going to rely on Facebook users to flag stuff, either by deleting the posts in their own feeds or identifying them as a “false news story” via a drop-down menu.

Facebook also doesn’t say it will zap bogus posts — just that it will give them less distribution and will append them with a warning sign. See the example below:

Okay. So what about the Onion, Clickhole and every other “real” purveyor of fake news, which seems to baffle Facebook users as much as the bogus fake news?

No worries, Facebook insists — especially if you tell people it’s a joke: “We’ve found from testing that people tend not to report satirical content intended to be humorous, or content that is clearly labeled as satire. This type of content should not be affected by this update.”


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