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Facebook to Flag Fake News With a 'Disputed' Tag

March 05, 2017 00:00 AM UTC
- Updated September 02, 2020 11:37 AM UTC

Fortune’s Andrew Nusca and Jeff Roberts debate whether it is a good move.

[THEME MUSIC] ANDREW NUSCA: Welcome to Fortune Tech Debate, where we debate the issues of the day in two minutes. Today, we're talking about Facebook's new disputed label. All right. Let's put two minutes on the clock. Take it away, Jeff. JEFF JOHN ROBERTS: So Andrew, you heard what Facebook's doing? ANDREW NUSCA: I have. This disputed label is kind of crazy, right? They want to put it on fake news? JEFF JOHN ROBERTS: Yeah, let's break-- here's how it works. You'll just now see a Disputed button on those stories with sketchy things about the cat in the pizza parlor, or whatever. ANDREW NUSCA: Cats never go into pizza parlors. It's fake news. JEFF JOHN ROBERTS: Exactly. But your friends are telling you they are. So what's going to happen you spot something fishy, like the cat in the pizza parlor. Hit-- Tell Facebook. They'll look into it. Put that disputed thing, if two fact-checking firms confirm it. So this is a game changer. We're now going to-- all these silly things people are sharing-- ANDREW NUSCA: Game changer? No, no, no, no, no. This is-- how could this possibly game change? How could this possibly stop the virality of content on Facebook, right? You just said it yourself, you need two different agencies to weigh in. And it sounds really nice. It almost sounds like a credit score, to be honest with you. But this could not possibly stop fake news effectively. [INTERPOSING VOICES] JEFF JOHN ROBERTS: Hang on. Let's give it a chance. Let's give it a chance. It's like a credit score that's weighing in on the news. I think this will be a great tool to help people be a little bit suspicious, think twice, a great step by Facebook. ANDREW NUSCA: No. I don't-- I just don't think it's going to move fast enough. But I also have other issues with this, Jeff. I mean, to be honest with you, I don't think Facebook should be in the business of even labeling what content is on its platform. I mean, if you think about it, Facebook has long professed that it's not a media company. It's not a media company. JEFF JOHN ROBERTS: Hang on. But we know they are a media company. They're the biggest most influential media company in the world. ANDREW NUSCA: And I agree. JEFF JOHN ROBERTS: They're publishing news, we're publishing news. Why don't they have the responsibilities we do? ANDREW NUSCA: Well, I agree. But they want to have their cake and eat it too, right? They are publishing news and I agree with you. They are a media company. But they-- I don't think that they can get in this business without having editorial voice. Right? So Fortune has an editorial voice, so many other publications do. Facebook doesn't want to have a house voice. That's not their goal. And so to actually put that label on there, even if it's user generated, suggests to me that Facebook sticking its nose where it shouldn't be. JEFF JOHN ROBERTS: No. I think they can learn their voice. Facebook is going to find its voice. It sounds funny, but they have a responsibility. They can do it. People-- ANDREW NUSCA: No. I think this is a slippery slope, Jeff, honestly. And what is even fake news? Is it the onion? Is it something that you just don't like, as we've seen? JEFF JOHN ROBERTS: It's a cat in the pizza parlor. ANDREW NUSCA: It's the cat in the pizza parlor, apparently. I just think this is too much for algorithms, and I'm not buying it. But we're out of time. Come to for more Tech Debate. [THEME MUSIC]