[Example] How Facebook is trying to fight fake news – or false news rather

Estimated read time: 3 minutes

Of course, it’s easy for people to spread fake news (aka incorrect information) on Facebook and other social media. There are no editors of content before it’s posted. It just goes up. Put some money behind it and you can make a go of social media distribution and syndication. Exhibit 1: Russia!

To get us started, though, what is fake news to begin with?

Here’s my definition: Fake news is something that is deliberately made up to deceive. It may also be created to push an agenda of some kind.

Evolving stories are not necessarily fake news. Unintentional mistakes in reporting are not fake news. Those are mistakes!

Facebook isn’t even calling it fake news but false news!

What’s false news? It may fit closer into mistakes made in the reporting OR the syndication and sharing of a story. Whew, this is getting complicated.

For example, I can share a completely accurate story and the way somebody chooses to pass it on with added details may make it false news! They make it fake news if they deliberately add the incorrect content. And especially when it’s done deliberately.

Related from Time:  YouTube disables 200 videos believed to be spreading disinformation about Hong Kong protests

Related from me: How to not get duped by fake news!

Facebook has now rolled out a new feature. At least it’s new to me, as I’ve just seen it recently for the first time!

They send notifications to users who share what Facebook calls false news. Here’s an example. I shared a post of a woman, with two children in tow, interrupting a pocket picking attempt (aka robbery).

original post

Now, the post I was sharing was in German and presumably shared by somebody in Germany. I was just commenting on the safety issue of intervening with children along for the ride. That can be dangerous because now you are trying to stop a robbery and then you’ll have to keep the children safe.

I later got a notification from Facebook that there was additional reporting available on the post and that Facebook is trying to fight false news, which I actually read as fake news in the rush of daily activities.

The fact check said that the video:

  • was not that recent
  • nor happened in Germany

That’s fine and may be true, but hardly makes it false news. Nor fake news. It’s just additional reporting. It’s a case of: Here’s more detail, which is what Facebook did.

In my case, it was actually irrelevant reporting. The point of why I shared it still stood and had little to do with the event happening yesterday or two years ago. I didn’t even see that the post claimed it happened in Germany, though them sharing it in German might make me assume that.

My podcast on false news, fake news and reporting of content

Listen to my podcast on even more channels.

Facebook notifications on false news

Facebook takes users’ feedback and then third-party fact checkers take a look. I was only notified because I shared it. I hadn’t seen that before and it has only notified me once after I shared the post in question. Not sure if liking a post OR seeing a post – which more people do yet – will trigger a note.

Of course, now since I shared it, I have to decide whether I need to post an update or not. In print journalism we called that a correction or clarification.


In this case, I decided to not post an update, but took the opportunity to file this blog post and a related podcast.

That’s a basic overview of how Facebook is addressing content that may potentially be false or needs additional reporting. Heads off for trying.