Facebook says it’s getting more serious about preventing fake news from going viral

“False information” labels that categorize posts that have been debunked by its fact-checkers will be added by Facebook and Instagram, the company announced.

The labels will appear on posts in Stories and Instagram’s main feed. Users will still be able to view the original post, but they’ll have to click “See Post” to get there. 

Facebook and Instagram users who attempt to share a post that has previously been debunked will be warned. Before the post goes live, they’ll see a notice that fact-checkers say it contains false information, along with a link to more information. Users can still opt to share the post with their followers, but it will appear stamped with the “false information” label.

Facebook said that the labels below “will be shown on top of false and partly false photos and videos, including on top of Stories content on Instagram, and will link out to the assessment from the fact-checker”.

“False information” label on Facebook and Instagram

While Facebook already down-ranks debunked posts in its News Feed, Instagram has instead focused on removing those posts from public-facing areas of the app, like hashtag pages and its Explore section. 

A new pop-up will be introduced that will appear when people attempt to share posts on Instagram that include content that has been debunked by third-party fact-checkers.

“False information” pop-up on Instagram

The company’s efforts are focused primarily on the 2020 US election. However, it affirms: ” In many countries, including in the US, if we have signals that a piece of content is false, we temporarily reduce its distribution pending review by a third-party fact-checker”.

According to the second volume of report on interference in the 2016 US election released by the Senate Intelligence, “the Instagram social media platform was the most effective tool used by the IRA [ Internet Research Campaign ]to conduct its information operations campaign”.

That’s one of the key findings of the report as Facebook has long downplayed Instagram’s role in the Internet Research Agency Campaign.

Almost a year out from the 2020 elections in the US, Facebook is striving to avoid the 2016 debacle by taking concrete measures to combat the spread of fake news in the electoral context.

“We have a responsibility to stop abuse and election interference on our platform. That’s why we’ve made significant investments since 2016 to better identify new threats, close vulnerabilities and reduce the spread of viral misinformation and fake accounts”, the company said.