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Facebook’s New Anti-Fake News Test Backfires Spectacularly

Fake News.Marco Verch/Flickr

As the current face of fake news, Facebook has a lot at stake in trying to stamp out the spread of fraudulent information on its platform. One of its most recent experiments is to promote comments on posts with the word “fake” on them. As anyone with even a lick of understanding of how the internet works could have predicted, however, this test backfired in spectacular fashion.

First off, it helps to understand how comments on social media works. Basically, people can write anything they want on any post as long as it’s shared publicly. As such, anyone can write the word “fake” on any post, even those of legitimate sources. This has resulted in frustration among many users, the BBC reports.

The test included posts of those from publications like The New York Times, Economist, The Guardian, and the BBC itself. In the comment sections of those posts, the word “fake” would be highlighted and promoted only to a few number of users. Unfortunately, this only resulted in confusion as the comments also served to label factual sources as fraudulent.

Users even took to Twitter to express their dismay at Facebook’s experiment, with several complaining how the top political posts on their feeds are apparently fake news. The social network gave a statement to the BBC to explain what happened and to defend their test.

"We're always working on ways to curb the spread of misinformation on our platform, and sometimes run tests to find new ways to do this. This was a small test which has now concluded,” Facebook said in a statement. “We wanted to see if prioritizing comments that indicate disbelief would help. We're going to keep working to find new ways to help our community make more informed decisions about what they read and share."

Of course, it doesn’t help that Facebook has a history of messing with its users. As Gizmodo points out, the social network has played with the emotions of thousands of people over the years just to see what their reactions would be.

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February 18 23:50 UTC Released

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