Apr 10, 2019

Facebook tries more tactics to block misinformation

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

At a press event at its headquarters in Menlo Park, California, Facebook announced a grab bag of new measures aimed at improving the reliability of the news that circulates on its platforms.

Why it matters: Facebook, along with Google's YouTube, Twitter and other online platforms, is facing a crisis of trust and rising doubts in its ability to control the spread of inaccurate information and hate speech.

Details: Facebook announced it will...

  • Adjust the News Feed algorithm to reduce the rank of sites that link out much more widely than they are linked to. The goal is to reduce the profile of content sources that are spreading much more widely on Facebook than elsewhere — a phenomenon Facebook is calling a "Click Gap."
  • Reduce the reach of Facebook Groups whose members repeatedly share misinformation, and hold Group administrators more accountable for violations of Facebook's community standards.
  • Expand its partnership with the Associated Press to "debunk false and misleading video misinformation and Spanish-language content appearing on Facebook in the U.S."
  • Open up a consultation process with "a wide range of academics, fact-checking experts, journalists, survey researchers and civil society organizations" to explore the benefits and risks of involving "groups of Facebook users pointing to journalistic sources to corroborate or contradict claims made in potentially false content."

By the numbers: The company said it catches 99% of both child exploitation and terrorist propaganda, as well as 96% of nudity and 97% of graphic violence — but barely more than 50% of hate speech (52%). That's up from only 23% of hate speech at the end of 2017.

What they're saying: According to Facebook product manager Tessa Lyons, the company is seeking to establish effective policies for dealing with content it doesn't want to outright ban or remove but does want to label as problematic and de-emphasize. "We don’t want to make money from problematic content or recommend it to people," she said.

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 8:30 p.m. ET: 5,490,954 — Total deaths: 345,962 — Total recoveries — 2,228,915Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 8:30 p.m. ET: 1,662,250 — Total deaths: 98,218 — Total recoveries: 379,157 — Total tested: 14,604,942Map.
  3. World: Italy reports lowest number of new cases since February — Ireland reports no new coronavirus deaths on Monday for the first time since March 21 — WHO suspends trial of hydroxychloroquine over safety concerns.
  4. 2020: Trump threatens to move Republican convention from North Carolina — Joe Biden makes first public appearance in two months.
  5. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks over Memorial Day.
  6. Economy: New York stock exchange to reopen its floor on Tuesday — White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Charities refocus their efforts to fill gaps left by government.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 19 mins ago - Politics & Policy

In photos: Authorities issue warning as Americans venture out for Memorial Day weekend

Ocean City in New Jersey on May 25. Photo: Donald Kravitz/Getty Images

Authorities urged Americans to maintain social distancing and wear masks to protect against the spread of the novel coronavirus amid reports of packed beaches and bars during the Memorial Day weekend.

Details: Law enforcement stepped up beach patrols, and there were crowded scenes in several places, notably at Lake of the Ozarks bars in Missouri and at Daytona Beach and on the Gulf Coast in Florida, per AP. Police dispersed crowds in some places, ABC notes. But many Americans did take precautions against COVID-19 as they ventured outside for the long weekend, some three months after the pandemic began in the U.S.

Coronavirus stay-at-home orders crater voter registration efforts

A volunteer looks for persons wanting to register to vote on July 4, 2019 in Santa Fe, N.M. Photo: Robert Alexander/Getty Images

The coronavirus pandemic is scuppering usual "get out the vote" efforts, leading to fears that large swaths of Americans could miss out on this year's elections.

What’s happening: Advocacy groups typically target college campuses, churches, festivals, fairs and other gatherings to seek out people who have yet to register, but many of those places are now closed. Voter registration efforts have largely moved to the internet, but advocates question whether that will be as effective as the person-to-person pitch.