In late 2017, Facebook admitted that its method of showing a "disputed" warning next to factually incorrect articles had backfired and actually increased the spread of fake news while "entrenching deeply held beliefs."
Now, they're trying something new: Facebook has a plan to reduce the size of news stories that have been flagged as false. A Facebook spokesperson confirmed the news to TechCrunch on Friday: "We reduce the visual prominence of feed stories that are fact-checked false."
The thumbnail image for a fake news story will now appear approximately 10 times smaller than a regular news story, and its headline will show up in a smaller font as well. In addition to the size difference, the fake news stories will be accompanied by a "Related Articles" box, displaying "fact-checker" stories that aim to debunk the original link.
Breaking down their new strategy at the Fighting Abuse @Scale conference in California, Facebook revealed that their methods for properly identifying false news stories have improved as well. The social media platform will now use new machine learning technology to automatically scan articles for factual discrepancies.
Facebook says these new automated methods will work in tandem with human fact checkers to improve efficiency and accuracy. A spokesperson explained, "We use machine learning to help predict things that might be more likely to be false news, to help prioritize material we send to fact checkers (given the large volume of potential material)." The company says it expects these methods to reduce the spread of false news stories by as much as 80 percent.
The method of literally making fake news smaller with the hopes that people don't see it may seem simplistic to the point of being laughable, but the company faces the challenge of limiting the spread of misinformation without being attacked for censoring ideas. An approach like this serves as a compromise instead of deleting flagged posts altogether. 75% of Americans have reportedly read a fake news story and believed it, so I guess it's worth a shot.