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News Feed

Facebook Inc said it has taken steps to clamp down on “hoaxes” and fake news stories that can spread like wildfire on its 1.35-billion member online social network.

The company said it had introduced an option to allow Facebook users to flag a story as “purposefully fake or deceitful news” to reduce the distribution of news stories reported as hoaxes.

Facebook said it will not remove fake news stories from its website. Instead, the company’s algorithm, which determines how widely user posts are distributed, will take into account hoax reports.

 

The Facebook researchers said people “often share these hoaxes and later decide to delete their original posts after they realize they have been tricked.”

An update to Facebook’s News Feed will aim to limit the spread of posts that have been reported as hoaxes and adds an a warning to messages that have been flagged as suspicious.

Facebook has also added an option that allows its users to report a “false news story” being circulated.

The social network said the update “reduces the distribution” of these posts but does not eliminate them.

 

In order to combat the issue, Facebook has added an option to report stories in the News Feed as false:

This works in the same way as reporting a story as spam. When you click to hide a story you also have the option to report the content. Stories that include scams, or deliberately misleading news, are reported two and a half times more often than links to other news stories.

To reduce the number of these types of posts, News Feed will take into account when many people flag a post as false. News Feed will also take into account when many people choose to delete posts. This means a post with a link to an article that many people have reported as a hoax or chosen to delete will get reduced distribution in News Feed.

Facebook won’t actually cut the posts, but if one of these stories does make its way into your News Feed, it will be coupled with a warning message.

 

As for satirical content, the social network says you should still continue to see those stories.

“We’ve found from testing that people tend not to report satirical content intended to be humorous, or content that is clearly labeled as satire,” Facebook said. “This type of content should not be affected by this update.”

Facebook similarly said that “the vast majority of publishers” on the social network shouldn’t be affected, but that the few that who frequently post hoaxes and scams “will see their distribution decrease”.

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If your News Feed goes by in a blur because you don’t have enough time for all the items that interest you, Facebook now offers a solution: You can Save the link, video or audio clip for later. “The inability to save content or return to particular pieces of information or posts has been a deficiency in the user experience,” said tech analyst Greg Sterling.

Facebook this week launched a feature that allows users to save content from their News Feed that they might want to read or watch later.

Called “Save,” it is designed help users who may be inundated by links to articles, music clips and videos to separate the wheat from the chaff.

“Every day, people find all sorts of interesting items on Facebook that they don’t have time to explore right away,” Jessie Baker, a spokesperson for Facebook, told TechNewsWorld. “Now you can save items that you find on Facebook to check out later when you have more time.”

Users who see something intriguing — say, a link to an article, a new restaurant where a friend checked in, or a movie, TV or music clip — now can choose the Save option in a dropdown menu in the upper right-hand corner of a post.

Saved content is stored by category within a user’s Facebook account. Facebook might occasionally remind users that they’ve got items waiting to be read or viewed.

A user’s saved items will stay private unless they choose to share particular links with their friends.

Not the New Instapaper

Facebook’s Save feature appears to be similar to popular apps like Instapaper and Pocket, which allow busy social media users who want to quickly skim sites the chance to save more time-consuming content for later.

There are a few key differences that separate Facebook’s tool from those apps, though. For one, Instapaper lets users add links to save for later from across the Web — for instance, from a Twitter feed, or to an article a colleague mentioned in a meeting.

Save is accessible only via Facebook, which means the saved content can be viewed only when users have a Web connection. For many Instapaper and Pocket users, the beauty is that they’re able to access material when they have loads of time but no Internet connection — say on a subway or a plane.

More Facebook for Everyone

Still, it’s an important and much-needed update to the Facebook platform, as is any new feature that can create a more engaged user base, said Greg Sterling, founder of Sterling Market Intelligence.

“This is a potentially very significant feature for Facebook, making it more useful and potentially changing the way that people interact with content on Facebook,” he told TechNewsWorld.

“The inability to save content or return to particular pieces of information or posts has been a deficiency in the user experience which this addresses directly,” Sterling said.

It’s a feature that the company should continue to develop in order to draw more eyeballs and advertising dollars, said Internet marketing expert Brian Carter.

“This is smart,” he told TechNewsWorld. “Many times I want to go back to something but can’t find it. But they need more — better search that finds content you may have seen but not saved. Facebook’s News Feed algorithm disappears things you didn’t click on, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t stick in your mind.”

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