In Brief

Facebook ditches fake news warnings

Research says flagging articles may actually entrench deeply held beliefs

Facebook is to ditch the red warning icons that alert users to fake news stories after less than a year, saying they have not worked as hoped and may in fact be counter-productive.

 Introduced in December 2016 in response to criticism of the proliferation of so-called fake news stories on the platform in the run-up to the US presidential election, the “disputed” red warning sign cropped up next to articles that third-party fact checking websites said were false.

Writing in a blog post, Facebook’s Tessa Lyons said academic research on correcting misinformation has shown that putting a strong image, like a red flag, next to an article “may actually entrench deeply held beliefs - the opposite effect to what we intended”.

Instead the site will now display related fact-checked articles next to disputed news stories.

Facebook said it had tested the approach and found that, although the new approach did not reduce the number of times disputed articles were clicked on, “it did lead to them being shared fewer times”, reports the BBC.

Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have faced calls to do more to tackle the spread of misinformation and propaganda.

There is also an ongoing debate as to whether sites like Facebook function as merely a third party platform or should be classified as publishers, and regulated as such.

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