Facebook to punish friends who peddle fake news

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San Francisco: You may soon stop seeing Facebook posts from friends who peddle false or misleading information.

The company has announced it will begin doling out harsher punishments for individual accounts that repeatedly share misinformation, an expansion of its efforts to crack down on fake news.

Under the new system, Facebook will “reduce the distribution of all posts” from such people, making it harder for their content to be seen by others on the service. It already does this for Pages and Groups that post misinformation, but it hadn’t previously extended same policy to individual users. Facebook does limit the reach of posts that have been flagged by fact-checkers, but there wasn’t a broader penalty for account holders who share misinformation.

The Facebook logo at the company’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California.Credit:AP

Facebook declined to specify how many times a user’s posts have to be flagged before the new punishment kicks in.

The California-based company will also start showing users a pop-up message if they click to “like” a page that routinely shares misinformation, alerting them that fact-checkers have previously flagged that page’s posts. “This will help people make an informed decision about whether they want to follow the Page,” the company wrote on a blog post.

The moves are the latest in Facebook’s effort to curb fake news — an ongoing challenge, especially concerning the polarising elections in several countries and COVID-19. Facebook created dedicated information hubs for topics like the pandemic and climate change as a way to present users with reliable information, but has struggled overall to keep up with rumours and misleading posts from its nearly 3 billion users.


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