Facebook Employees Are In Revolt Over Fake News

Some Facebook employees have formed a secret, unofficial task force to help the company combat fake news, according to a Buzzfeed report. The group has reportedly challenged Mark Zuckerberg's comments claiming that fake news on the platform didn't affect the election.

Image: AP

The revelation came after Gizmodo reported yesterday that Facebook has conducted high-level talks since May about Facebook's role in disseminating news, and its role in preventing fake news from spreading. One source told Gizmodo that "high-ranking officials were briefed on a planned News Feed update that would have identified fake or hoax news stories, but disproportionately impacted right-wing news sites by downgrading or removing that content from people's feeds". In a move aimed at calming critics, Facebook announced that it would block fake news sites from using its advertising network.

According to a Facebook source who spoke with Buzzfeed, there are "more than dozens" of employees that have joined the unofficial task force to stop fake news, and they have met in secret twice in the past week. The groups plan to make recommendations on how to prevent fake news from spreading, which it will present to senior executives, according to the report.

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Comments

    Simplest problem with the idea of blocking false news sites is that parody is protected under the first amendment rights to freedom of speech. Do you block The Onion, and other parody sites? What about climate change deniers? Anti-vaxxers? Pro-lifers?

    Just because someone has a different opinion, and is supporting their view with a questionable story and/or evidence doesnt make that story fake, or something that should be blocked.

    If its a story that Hillary Clinton was the secret lovechild of Hitler (which did pop up somewhere), then yeah, block it, but how do you tell the difference between some crazy conspiracy theory and what they are really trying to block?

    Likewise, if you do, then that just fuels conspiracy theories anyway. Start blocking stories, Trump goes back to his rampage about the media being against him, the election rigged, and so forth, and there starts to be traction to the idea because of this very thing.

    Its a no win situation, and really, all you're doing is trying to do the same thing as warning people that a packet of nuts may contain nuts.

      Your 'simplest problem' is not a problem at all. The first amendment has nothing whatsoever to do with what private companies do with their platforms.

      As for whether they decide to block other sites, I would expect The Onion and other parody sites to be fairly safe. They are clearly written and marked as parody. They're not making any active attempts to convince people that their stories are true, which is the critical distinction from fake news sites. Maybe they'll expand to general misinformation like climate change denial and anti-vax, but for now the fake news sites are easy enough to draw a line around.

        It was more that the first amendment allows people to poke fun at others through parody. How are they going to tell the difference from that versus the real stuff they're trying to block? The "simple problem" is that there is a hell of a lot out there thats not fake news in the sense they are talking about, its just comedy.

        They cant just block everything, thats plain stupid, so there will need to be some sort of filter, and once that kicks in, its all bets off. That country litigates at the drop of a pin, why do you think this would be any different?

        If you cant see the risks, so be it. But I can. This isnt going to be an easy fix for them.

          Again: The first amendment does not apply here. It's about the government preventing you from saying something. It has nothing to say about private companies blocking content from their networks, any more than it requires me to allow you to come into my house and make speeches.

          Also, satire and parody aren't specifically protected under the first amendment. Speech is. If parody is protected under the first amendment, so is lying. You're thinking of fair use exceptions to copyright law (which also don't apply here).

      Facebook is a privately owned company, Its their platform. They can delete what ever they want.

    Maybe Facebook should implement a "click bait/fake news" reporting feature.

    Though Facebook is shit it comes to actually enforcing policy.

    "according to a Buzzfeed report"

      Yup, came out of their news department, which deals with news and isn't that bad.

    Facebook could always invest in it's own news team. They got more cash than God so they can afford it. It would be fairly easy for them to form alliances with various news organisations and produce a kind of 'virtual newspaper.' Groups not affiliated would not be allowed to use the terms 'news' in their titles or posts.

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