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Facebook’s Latest Attempt at Fighting Fake News Is to Provide Publisher Info

October 5, 2017, 10:02 PM UTC

Facebook is trying curb the spread of fake news by providing it users more information about news publishers.

The social media giant said on Thursday that it is testing a new feature that gives users background information about news outlets whose articles are often shared online. Specifically, Facebook is testing a button that appears as a lower-case “i” next to articles in the News Feed that pops up information scraped from the publisher’s Facebook page and from Wikipedia.

The feature lets Facebook users get more context about news sources without having to leave the social network, Facebook said. The button provides a boilerplate explanation about the publisher, along with additional stories related to the specific news article and information about who is reading the article on Facebook, and where.

An example posted by Facebook on Thursday showed a button with information about The Associated Press that described the 171-year-old outlet as “an American multinational nonprofit news agency headquartered in New York City.” Meanwhile, if an article comes from a questionable, or unknown, source, users that click on the info button will see an alert telling them that no information is available for the publisher on either Facebook or Wikipedia.

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“Helping people access this important contextual information can help them evaluate if articles are from a publisher they trust, and if the story itself is credible,” Facebook said in its announcement of the test. Facebook said it will listen to feedback from users and publishers about the new test feature before deciding whether or not to roll it out further.

The test button is spawned from the Facebook Journalism Project, the initiative the tech giant launched at the beginning of this year in an attempt to cut down on the amount of false or inaccurate news stores being shared on the service, as well as to improve Facebook’s relationships with legitimate news publishers.

Facebook continues to face criticism over the spread of fake news on the service in the wake of last year’s presidential election. The company recently turned over 3,000 ads bought by Russian-linked accounts that aimed to spread divisive and misleading information before the 2016 election. Facebook officials are reportedly set to testify before Congress on the matter sometime this month.