In a complete turnaround from their policy immediately after the American election, Facebook has decided to cooperate with French news providers to prevent fake news from having an influence on their election. By making it easier to flag certain stories as hoaxes, and also creating a fact-checking platform, Facebook intends to avoid any future problems with fake news.
Many have blamed Facebook and other news aggregators (Google News) for letting stories not based on fact receive too much attention. The argument says that voters were wrongly influenced by these articles and it is the responsibility of the news provider to filter out stories that are patently wrong.
Initially, Facebook denied any responsibility for the news that they display, citing themselves as a platform, and not a media company. These new moves to vet articles more closely could be seen as tacit admission of their guilt. Last month they chose to enact similar policies in Germany, where Angela Merkel is seeking her fourth term as chancellor.
There will be two parts to these new policies, and both are dependent on the cooperation of local news companies. First, if a user sees an article and believes it to be false, they can report it and it will go to review by one of Facebook’s partner companies. If two of the eight major news companies decide that the article is a hoax or false in some way, they will provide citations, and as a result the article will show up with a disclaimer that explains that the content is not dependable.
The second way the system work is by using a platform called Crosscheck, which allows users to submit questions that partners will cooperate in answering. This sort of centralized fact-checking is expected to do wonders in reducing the effect of fake news.
The only way this system will work is with the cooperation of big news companies like Le Monde. These companies do a lot of the grunt work required in order to maintain the integrity of the news, but will also benefit from it by increasing the value of their content.
This is a small first step, but Mark Zuckerberg seems to be on the right track to mitigating what he has admitted could be a significant business risk in the future.