People have been finding various ways on Facebook to report news as fake by fraudulent means, in case they want to falsify it or do not agree with it. Facebook sends these stories reported as fake to third-party fact checkers, in order to counter “brigading”, which is a concentrated effort by trolls to reduce the visibility of the report, but the overwhelming number of such reports makes it a struggle for the fact checkers. In order to combat this, Facebook provides users with a trustworthiness score between 0 and 1 which shows how much reliable their flagging of false news is.
The way this works is that if the users flag off a news which they consider to be false, but the fact checkers conclude that it is true, then the users’ trustworthiness score will be adversely affected. This will have implications later, as Facebook may consider them less reliable for future flagging. Conversely, if they correctly report false news, their score increases and Facebook will trust their future flagging more. The report was confirmed by Facebook’s News Feed product manager Tessa Lyons; however, presently there is no way to check the users’ own score or someone else’s score. Facebook also has certain other tools to rank users, such as “Facebook Friends Ranking”, which determines how often you will come up on your friend’s News Feed. However, among this variety of tools at its disposal, it remains to be seen how well Facebook utilizes them to combat fake news and misinformation that is plaguing the platform.
Meanwhile, a study at the University of Warwick has thrown up a very disturbing conclusion that attacks on refugees and immigrants in Germany become more frequent with an increase in Facebook usage. Making use of an anti-immigration political faction page, the “Alternative for Germany” party, they found that hate crimes against refugees and immigrants increase drastically in areas that make use of Facebook heavily, when the anti-immigrant sentiment is at its peak. Violent incidents against the refugees such as arson and assault are especially visible due to this effect. They estimated that attacks may have increased by 13%, due to social media activity.