Facebook is Starting to Flag Some Fake News Stories “Disputed”

Facebook is finally taking steps to solve its fake news problem. Sort of.

Completely made-up news stories will still make their way onto your News Feed, but now some of them will be accompanied by a new Facebook Disputed label, as first reported by Gizmodo on Friday. In this particular instance, the fake story, admittedly made-up by its creators, “The Seattle Tribune”, cites popular myth debunking site Snopes.com and PolitiFact as two sources disputing its claims.

Image via Gizmodo

Snopes and Politifact signed-on to provide free fact-checking for any disputed stories on Facebook back when the company introduced the program in December. As Re/code pointed out this weekend, though, the process is far from perfect—and hardly timely. The initial “Seattle Tribune” article was posted online on February 26th; Snopes got around to calling it bunk on March 2nd, and PolitiFact got to it the following day. Therefore, until March 3rd, folks on Facebook didn’t see that this “Seattle Times” story about Chump’s unsecured Android device being the source of White House leaks was bogus—5 full days after it was posted.

(It’s worth noting: everything that “The Seattle Times” writes is satire, like “The Onion”, so none of it should be taken at face-value in the first place.)

The Facebook Disputed label (by name alone) is misleading as well: if a story is fake, or, as with “The Seattle Times”, satire—can it ever really be “disputed”? This “solution” looks more like the social network once again sidestepping the major issue than actually correcting it.

In any case, this is just their first attempt. Perhaps “Disputed”, as the Like button was for so long, is only the first wave of anti-Fake News filters to hit Facebook.

For more information on how the Facebook Disputed label works, check out the company’s Help page.