Facebook tests feature to provide context for news stories

Facebook tests feature to provide context for news stories
© Greg Nash

Facebook is testing a new feature to give users more information about news articles being shared on their feeds as the company fights allegations that its platform has been enabling the spread of misinformation.

In a blog post on Thursday, Facebook announced that it would be trying out a button that will show users more context about the subject of a shared article link as well as the source.

“The additional contextual information is pulled from across Facebook and other sources, such as information from the publisher’s Wikipedia entry, a button to follow their Page, trending articles or related articles about the topic, and information about how the article is being shared by people on Facebook,” the blog post reads.

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In recent weeks, Facebook has been dragged into the focus of Congress’s investigation of possible Russian efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election. Facebook revealed that Russian-linked actors had purchased 3,000 political ads on their platform.

The company has also been scrutinized over whether it’s doing enough to combat the spread of misinformation, while the news industry has been critical of the platform’s effect on publishers’ business models.

“We’ll continue to listen to people’s feedback and work with publishers to provide you easy access to the important information that helps you decide which stories on Facebook to read, share and trust,” Andrew Anker, Facebook’s news product management director, said in a video accompanying the announcement.