Facebook has become one of the primary sources for information on the internet. Unfortunately, much of what you’ll encounter on the social network holds about as much credibility as a drunk ranting from the darkest corner of the pub at 2PM on a Monday.
The company has, since 2016, trotted out various measures to suppress the spread of misinformation (though it can be argued that Facebook is structured to explicitly spread false information, since it tends to be more attractive and easy to spread). Now, it is going one step further — individual accounts are in line to be down-ranked, if they’re constant spreaders of false info.
The social network already down-ranks pages and groups that have been fact-checked and found to be spreading false information. And, for individual users, specific posts that share false info were also penalised. But, for people like your Uncle Tony who never met a blatantly incorrect post he didn’t immediately fall in love with, now entire accounts will see “…the distribution of all posts in News Feed from an individual’s Facebook account [reduced] if they repeatedly share content that has been rated by one of our fact-checking partners.”
In addition, new pop-ups are being implemented when attempting to like a page that has previously found to be posting false content. These will offer details about why liking the page is a terrible idea and, in theory anyway, “…help people make an informed decision about whether they want to follow the Page.”
Sharing information later found to be false is also being expanded upon. Facebook will notify those who shared the misinformation, provide context on the debunking and then prompt them to share the article that did so. Lastly, the notification will inform users about what we’ve just told you — that repeatedly sharing false info may see their posts moved way down on the News Feed importance ladder.
Will Facebook’s changes make the slightest difference? That remains to be seen. Expect to see vast quantities of misinformation about this very thing in your News Feeds in the very near future, however.