The goal of Facebook’s News Feed is to catch up with your friends and find the things that matter to you. One of the biggest complaints they’ve heard from people that they want to see fewer stories that are hoaxes, or misleading news. Today’s update to News Feed reduces the distribution of posts that people have reported as hoaxes and adds an annotation to posts that have received many of these types of reports to warn others on Facebook. They are not removing stories people report as false and they are not reviewing content and making a determination on its accuracy.
What they are trying to cut down on are the amount of hoaxes that includes scams (“Click here to win a lifetime supply of coffee”), or deliberately false or misleading news stories (“Man sees dinosaur on hike in Utah”). People often share these hoaxes and later decide to delete their original posts after they realize they have been tricked. These types of posts also tend to receive lots of comments from friends letting people know this is a hoax, and comments containing links to hoax-busting websites. In fact, Facebook’s testing found people are two times more likely to delete these types of posts after receiving such a comment from a friend.
Recently, Facebook added an option for people to report a story they see in News Feed as false. This works in the same way as reporting a story as spam. When you click to hide a story you also have the option to report the content. Stories that include scams, or deliberately misleading news, are reported two and a half times more often than links to other news stories.
To reduce the number of these types of posts, News Feed will take into account when many people flag a post as false. News Feed will also take into account when many people choose to delete posts. This means a post with a link to an article that many people have reported as a hoax or chosen to delete will get reduced distribution in News Feed. This update will apply to posts including links, photos, videos and status updates.
Posts that receive lots of reports will be annotated with a message warning people that many others on Facebook have reported it.
The vast majority of publishers on Facebook will not be impacted by this update. A small set of publishers who are frequently posting hoaxes and scams will see their distribution decrease.