People are starting to see Facebook’s disputed content alerts

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In December, Facebook announced a process to combat the spread of dubious or fake news items on the site. That process involves letting users flag potentially inaccurate stories, which are then fact-checked by third-party organizations in Poynter’s International Fact Checking Network.

The debunked content is then marked as disputed, with a corresponding link to an explanation. The disputed story is demoted in the News Feed and cannot be promoted.

The Guardian found some of these disputed news alerts associated with a widely circulated but false story about “forgotten” Irish slaves in the US. The story had been circulating in the run up to St. Patrick’s Day.

The above is a screen shot was captured by The Guardian. The alert was showing up in some markets but not others, indicating that these alerts may not have rolled out globally yet.

The following image features mockups, provided by Facebook, of the screens that users who flag a story as fake initially see: “Mark this post as fake news.”

Facebook Fake News

Despite being flagged and confirmed as fake news, Facebook previously told me that it wouldn’t remove the post or prevent people from sharing it. Instead the company opted for the disputed content label, as shown above in The Guardian story.

Fake news on Facebook was cited by some journalists and analysts as having played a role in the outcome of the US presidential election. Some fake news stories were created by interests outside the US, in some cases for profit and in some cases to influence public opinion. It has also been a widespread problem in Europe.

About The Author

Greg Sterling is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog, Screenwerk, about connecting the dots between digital media and real-world consumer behavior. He is also VP of Strategy and Insights for the Local Search Association. Follow him on Twitter or find him at Google+.


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