SEVERE WX : Air Stagnation Advisory View Alerts
STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Facebook makes changes in its ongoing attempt to limit misinformation

Facebook is doing a lot of little things to try to address its bigger problems.On Wednesday, the company announced more than a dozen updates about how...

Posted: Apr 11, 2019 6:04 AM

Facebook is doing a lot of little things to try to address its bigger problems.

On Wednesday, the company announced more than a dozen updates about how it is addressing misinformation and other problematic content on Facebook, Instagram and Messenger. To promote the various efforts, the company held a four-hour long event at its Menlo Park headquarters for around 20 reporters where employees for various Facebook products recapped changes and answered questions.

For years, Facebook has grappled with the spread of controversial content on its platform, such as misinformation about elections, anti-vaccination stories, violence and hate speech.

Facebook has been trying to remove things faster that are against its rules, and "reduce" the spread of content that doesn't explicitly violate its policies, but is still troublesome, such as clickbait and misinformation.

"We don't remove information from Facebook just because it's false. We believe we have to strike a balance," Facebook's VP of integrity Guy Rosen said at the event. "When it comes to false information by real people, we aim to reduce distribution and provide context."

For example, Facebook said it will lessen the reach of groups that often share misinformation. When users in a group frequently share content that has been deemed false by Facebook's third-party fact checkers, that group's content will be pushed lower in News Feed so fewer people see it.

There will also be a "click-gap" signal, which will affect a link's position in the News Feed. With this feature, Facebook hopes to reduce the spread of websites that are disproportionately popular on Facebook compared to other parts of the web.

It is working with experts to identify new ways to combat fake news on the platform. The Associated Press is expanding the work it does for Facebook's independent fact-checking program, too.

The company has frequently described its issues with problematic content as "adversarial." In the company's framing, it is fighting an enemy that learns and changes tactics. The bundle of changes it announced on Wednesday are its newest weapons.

Facebook policy bans content that it determines can result in "imminent physical violence." Employees on Wednesday defended its decision to not ban all misinformation or anti-vaccination content on its products.

"When it comes to thinking about harm, it is really hard ... to draw a line between a piece of content and something that happens to people offline," said Tessa Lyons, Facebook's head of News Feed integrity.

She said some of the posts that appeared to be anti-vaccination involved people asking questions, seeking information and having conversations around the topic.

"There is a tension between enabling expression and discourse and conversation, and ensuring that people are seeing authentic and accurate information. We don't think that one private company should be making decisions about what information can or cannot be shared online," she said.

Renee Murphy, principal analyst at research firm Forrester who covers security and risk, said that while Facebook's steps are positive, they don't do nearly enough to address some of its larger problems.

"Part of me says 'awesome [this content] wont go as far as it used to," she said. "The other part says 'I have no trust in any of this.' At the end of the day, what is any of this going to do? How will they manage it?"

Facebook is also trying to be more transparent with users about how and why it makes decisions. As part of the effort, the company is adding a new section to its Community Standards website where users can see the updates Facebook makes to its policies every month.

Another update lets users remove comments and other content they posted to a Facebook Group after they leave it.

Meanwhile, Facebook-owned Instagram is trying to squash the spread of inappropriate posts that don't violate its policies. For example, a sexually suggestive photo would still pop up in a feed if a user follows that account, but it may no longer be recommended for the Explore Page or in pages for hashtags.

Facebook also announced a few updates to its chat service Messenger, including a Facebook verified badge that would show up in chats to help fight scammers who impersonate public figures.

Another tool called the Forward Indicator will pop up in Messenger when a message is forwarded by the sender. WhatsApp, another Facebook-owned app, has a similar function, which is part of an effort to stop the spread of misinformation. WhatsApp has had major issues with viral hoax messages spreading on the platform, which have resulted in more than a dozen lynchings in India.

Forrester's Murphy believes the company should do more to address major issues such as violence being livestreamed and going viral on the platform. Last month, a suspected terrorist was able to stream live video to Facebook of a mass murder in New Zealand. The company said its AI systems failed to catch the video, and it took down 1.5 million videos of the attack in the first 24 hours.

"They have bigger problems. I'm sure [these updates] will help sometimes, but there are bigger problems at foot," she said. "Facebook has a lot more to do."

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 391099

Reported Deaths: 5161
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah60298839
Washington41981395
Marion39886506
Clackamas32773378
Lane30113355
Jackson24880360
Deschutes23557185
Umatilla15126180
Linn14637179
Douglas13375291
Josephine10148244
Yamhill9762143
Klamath9053146
Polk8212100
Benton609738
Malheur592487
Coos5664106
Columbia430455
Jefferson420266
Lincoln362152
Union338755
Crook334056
Wasco316146
Clatsop261835
Baker219833
Tillamook216645
Hood River213737
Morrow197525
Curry191939
Harney119933
Grant108515
Lake105416
Wallowa75713
Sherman1913
Gilliam1854
Wheeler1141
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 5083462

Reported Deaths: 74473
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles152713227166
San Diego4069274335
Riverside3876785358
San Bernardino3745435962
Orange3343985725
Sacramento1683542443
Kern1576621804
Fresno1567952254
Santa Clara1520891925
Alameda1251761504
San Joaquin1075591834
Ventura1040031190
Contra Costa1037721046
Stanislaus915481417
Tulare860871096
San Francisco56909669
San Mateo56320629
Monterey52488626
Solano47671357
Santa Barbara47293549
Merced45053667
Sonoma43168412
Placer42141470
Imperial38477773
Kings35206363
San Luis Obispo31476359
Madera26194311
Shasta26081451
Butte25455314
Santa Cruz22248224
Yolo21558257
Marin18465249
El Dorado18301166
Sutter14571186
Napa13420104
Yuba1076089
Tehama10275130
Humboldt10158119
Nevada10019105
Mendocino857197
Lassen796756
San Benito781578
Tuolumne773090
Lake7043110
Amador577366
Siskiyou474755
Glenn457436
Calaveras441588
Del Norte375542
Colusa325220
Inyo256646
Plumas19367
Mono18784
Mariposa160018
Trinity99717
Modoc7655
Unassigned3220
Sierra2180
Alpine1080
Out of CA00
Medford
Cloudy
42° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 42°
Brookings
Partly Cloudy
59° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 59°
Crater Lake
Partly Cloudy
42° wxIcon
Hi: 53° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 42°
Grants Pass
Cloudy
42° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 42°
Klamath Falls
Partly Cloudy
26° wxIcon
Hi: 55° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 26°
Stagnant and dry weather continue all week
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events