Facebook makes new change to stifle spread of fake news stories

Facebook makes new change to stifle spread of fake news stories
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Facebook on Wednesday announced that it is removing a tool that allowed some users to spread fake news.

The platform said that it will no longer allow Facebook users to modify link previews. Previously, a user posting a link to a news story could edit details of the preview, like a story’s headline or the brief summary below its headline.

Users sharing fake or hoax news stories could use this option to mislead readers, often by altering the headline preview in a way that made other users more likely to click or share the fake story.

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“By removing the ability to customize link metadata (i.e. headline, description, image) from all link sharing entry points on Facebook, we are eliminating a channel that has been abused to post false news,” the company wrote in a post.  

Facebook noted that it would still be working with legitimate publishers who had been using the feature “to find other solutions that allow publishers to share customized content on our platform.” The company said it would have more to share on this adjustment in the coming weeks.

Facebook’s decision is part of the company’s larger effort to mitigate the spread of false news stories across its platform. Critics of the company argued that the spread of fake news across the site, coupled with the lack of intervention from Facebook, may have misled voters during the presidential campaign.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg initially pushed back against this charge but has since addressed it with changes to the way the company manages content.

The company has rolled out new features since November that allow users to flag potentially fake stories so that their validity can later be reviewed by independent groups. The company also said it’s introduced new algorithms to automatically temper the spread of false stories.