If the grand experiment that is social media has taught us one thing, it’s that people have no shame. If it’s taught us anything else, it’s that people will fall for anything.
Because you can’t be trusted to recognize a hoax when you see one, Facebook has announced that it is taking steps to minimize the effectiveness of such hoaxes.
The site is taking a two-pronged approach to achieving this goal. First, Facebook is going to try to show less hoax content in the news feed. Second, it’s going to try to warn you when something is likely a hoax.
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.
So, the more people complain about a post being false and the more times a type of post is deleted because the poster realized it was a dumb hoax – the less likely you are to see it come across your news feed. Facebook is not deleting posts flagged as hoax-y, just reducing their visibility.
If a hoax post happens to make it through, Facebook will now warn you that it’s likely bullshit. You’ll now see a disclaimer above certain posts that reads Many people on Facebook have reported that this story contains false information.
There is one tricky element to all of this, and it concerns sites that publish fake viral news. Some might call it satire, some might call it unfunny lying. The Onion is an example of a publication that does satire the right way. There are plenty of others who simply report fake news.
Here’s what Facebook has to say about this content:
We’ve found from testing that people tend not to report satirical content intended to be humorous, or content that is clearly labeled as satire. This type of content should not be affected by this update.
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.
Bottom line – this can only be a positive change for your overall Facebook experience.