New York: Facebook is taking new measures to curb the spread of fake news on its huge and influential social network, focusing on the “worst of the worst” offenders and partnering with outside fact-checkers to sort honest news reports from made-up stories that play to people’s passions and preconceived notions.
Fake news stories touch on a broad range of subjects, from unproven cancer cures to celebrity hoaxes and backyard Bigfoot sightings. But fake political stories have drawn attention because of the possibility that they influenced public perceptions and could have swayed the US presidential election. There have been other dangerous real-world consequences.
A fake story about a child sex ring at a Washington, DC, pizza joint prompted a man to fire an assault rifle inside the restaurant, Comet Ping Pong.
“We do believe that we have an obligation to combat the spread of fake news,” said John Hegeman, vice president of product management on news feed, in an interview. But he added that Facebook also takes its role to provide people an open platform seriously, and that it is not the company’s place to decide what is true or false.