The Facebook I originally became addicted too helped me keep up to date with friends I had lost contact with over the years. Our News Feeds focused on all the comments and activities of what our friends and family were up to. Back then Facebook symbolised the benefits of using the internet to add value to our lives. Fast ward today, I don’t see all my friends posts. Instead I am bombarded with a mine field of adverts, news stories and potential viruses.

While the Facebook I signed up for has long been forgotten, there are promises of a better user experience on the way. Earlier this year Facebook updated the algorithm of the News Feeds, introduced self destructing messages and have worked to reduce the amount of clickbait. Now as the year draws to a close it’s been announced, Facebook will be giving users the ability to flag fake news stories and hoaxes.

With the rise of social media in recent years, increasing numbers of millennials are using Facebook as their primary source of news instead of the traditional news sources. Anyone can post content regardless if it is true or not. Sadly, the more shocking it is the faster the gossip travels. Journalistic standards have become a forgotten virtue that has given way to clickbait headlines and fake news articles that are designed to push a secret agenda or sell adverts.

Fake news articles (“Pope Francis shocks world, endorses Donald Trump for president” and “FBI agent suspected in Hillary email leaks found dead in apartment in murder-suicide”) outperformed the real news stories (“Trump’s history of corruption is mind-boggling” and “I ran the CIA. Now I’m endorsing Hillary Clinton”) Pre-American Election Day.

How Will Fake Stories Be Flagged?

Users can report fake news stories by clicking the upper right hand corner of a post. Choosing the ‘report post’ option and following this by clicking ‘it’s a fake news story’. However, Facebook will not only be relying on their users to point out the fake stories and Hoaxes. They will also be watching articles that are read but not shared. This is generally an indication of a false or misleading story.

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Screenshots courtesy of Facebook

If a story is identified as fake, it will get flagged as disputed, warning other users before they click on the article. There will also be a link to an explanation why it has been marked as such. Stories that have been disputed may also appear lower in the News Feed.

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Screenshot courtesy of Facebook

Once an article has been flagged as fake or as a hoax, it can’t be made into an ad and be promoted. It may still be possible to share these stories, but you will be warned that the story has been disputed as you share it.

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Screenshot courtesy of Facebook

Hopefully this will run smoother than reporting indecent photos shared by viruses tagging numerous of the host’s friends. In the past I have reported such photos/stories only to be told that there is nothing wrong and then a few hours later being informed actually they were inappropriate.

Don’t believe everything you read!

As more and more people turn to their social media platforms as their source of news, it is becoming more necessary for these social platforms to put in place measures to help their users understand the difference between news and rubbish. “Don’t believe everything you read”, is maybe not as widely an understood concept as we thought it was.