Facebook Will Now Punish Pages that Share Fake News
Fake news has become less of a menace and more of an existential threat to democracy and fact-based decision-making everywhere. We saw the extent of danger posed by it when reports emerged last year that the fake news probably had a major impact on the results of the US Presidential Election 2016.Since last year, U.K. (during Brexit referendum), France (during Presidential Elections 2017), and Germany (Federal Elections 2017) have got a taste of fake news themselves. While it is a matter of debate who is behind the spread of all the fake news, there is little doubt that the issue is very real and the situation is grave. However, an unlikely savior appears to be emerging to protect the public from the peril of fake news, and that’s Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and Founder of Facebook. From Monday, Facebook will block pages that will share the fake news. If pages repeatedly share content that has been marked by third-party fact-checking organizations as fake, then the pages can be banned by Facebook. The social media platform has so far not released any kind of details regarding their latest move. For instance, there is no information regarding how many such fake shares should a page make before it is banned. Facebook asserts that they won’t be disclosing that information as fake news publishers can make use of that information to play the system. This is not the first move by Facebook to curb the issue of fake news. In March this year, Facebook created a tool that alerts users whenever they are sharing content from a source that third-party fact-checking organizations have classified as ‘disputed’. In addition, Facebook also does not allow people and businesses to use Facebook ads to link to stories that fact-checking agencies have marked as false. This was a major step by Facebook in prevention of the proliferation of fake news. Many Facebook publishers use the platform to gather a large audience and systematically distribute fake news to them. Now, the platform is pulling all stops to curb their activities. The good thing is that the ban is not permanent. If the pages stop sharing false news, then they will eventually be allowed to make use of Facebook ads again. If they start sharing false news again, they will again draw the wrath of Facebook. At this point, it is not clear whether Facebook will permanently ban such repeat offender pages. There is no doubt that such pages will try to push fake news from time to time. After all, it is a highly profitable business. Fake news publishers use Facebook to create a large fan following and drive huge traffic to their websites. They then use online ads to make loads of money featuring online ads to their visitors. Naturally, Facebook expects the publishers to get creative in their ways of spreading false news and stories. So, going forward, we can expect more such measures from Facebook to tackle this issue head-on. We need more such measures from other platforms to address the plague that fake news has become.