Social networking titan Facebook has said that it will not be removing fake news from its network as it is not in violation of its community standards.
The site is currently promoting an advertising campaign here in the UK that states “fake news is not our friend”. However, Facebook has now said that publishers had different points of view on the subject, with some believing that the company removing fabricated content would be against the principles of free speech.
As a result of this disagreement, Facebook has now said that instead of removing posts that it deems to be fake, it will instead demote them within the news feed.
The California-based network has been under intense scrutiny for well over a year now due to its role in the spreading of fake news on the site after evidence surfaced that the Russians attempted to influence the way US users voted in the Presidential Election, which saw Donald Trump elected as the nation’s 45th President in 2016.
In the past 18 months, Facebook has been involved in a war against fake news and has tried many different methods to crack down on it. One of these failed methods was to fire its human editors, but this backfired and saw even more fake news popping up onto the site and trending in the ‘Trending Now’ box that is now on its way out of the site.
Last week, Facebook organised an event in New York City where it planned to convince a host of journalists and media outlets that it was on top of the problem and was tackling fake news. Oliver Darcy, a reporter from CNN, asked those running the session how it was tackling the spread of fake news when it allowed pages such as InfoWars to remain on the site.
InfoWars is a page that produces live panel shows online and has over 900,000 followers on the social network. Furthermore, the show’s main host, Alex Jones, boasts close to 2.5 million subscribers on video site YouTube. These statistics aside, the page is known to be spreading fake news. In response to this, John Hegeman of Facebook stated that the social media site was created as a platform where different people can voice their opinions.
In this session, the company confirmed that it would not be removing fake news items from the site as they technically did not breach any rules the site has, but it would endeavour to downrank content that has been flagged as fake.
Facebook has also recently tested a red warning icon next to articles that its fact checkers had identified as fake news, but found that this approach to the issue “entrenched deeply held beliefs”.