When #Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg announced the empowered role of the #social network in stopping the spread of false information, many were doubtful and unconvinced. The extensive criticism came in the wake of the U.S. presidential election and people were not sure if Facebook can truly change its powerful news feed in order to stamp out the fake stories. At the time, the changes rolled out were limited to select users in the United States. There were added options for readers and third-party checkers in charge of flagging articles. Facebook's algorithm also received some tweaks with more restrictions on advertising.

A new strategy

In their efforts to decrease, if not totally wipe out, the number of #fake news stories, Facebook is currently trying a new approach.

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If an alleged fake trending story is shared on the platform, a newly installed feature will appear. This is called the "Related Articles" and it will present the user or sharer fact-checked articles reflecting the same subject, but from different sources.

While this does not count as totally censoring information, the purpose is to provide people more information to help them discern the accuracy and legitimacy of the article and its topic. In addition, users will be shown further stories to give them more context about the material they are reading.

This feature has been under testing since August and reports say that the Facebook community found it useful. According to the company, the related articles have given their users additional information and more perspective. It has contributed in helping people decide whether the stories are accurate, misleading, or false.

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So far, the update is only available in countries where Facebook has established fact checking partnerships including the U.S., Germany, France, and the Netherlands. Hopefully, it starts to roll out in other countries soon.

Continuous effort

Facebook recognizes their responsibility in providing sound and accurate online journalism. Despite being caught up in the issue, which initially worked to their disadvantage, the company is set to rally against the spread of fake information. Further, they have also emphasized that they do not intend to be arbiters of the truth. The presence of the fact checkers is a clear effort to prove an unbiased approach towards the matter.

The company has also improved the accuracy and speed of their learning algorithm. This will help identify potential hoaxes to be sent to the fact checkers who will do the review. After which, the third-party will decide whether or not to dispute the flagged article. Such intervention may not be the full resolution to a problem with a much wider scope. However, Facebook's efforts are at least helping the cause move one step further.