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

Warren sees bump in national poll following Nevada debate

Photo by David Becker/Getty Images.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren surged to 19% and second place in a CBS News/YouGov national poll released Sunday, trailing front-runner Sen. Bernie Sanders (28%) but edging out Joe Biden (17%) and Michael Bloomberg (13%).

Why it matters: The poll notes that only 42% of Democratic primary voters have made up their minds. While Warren underperformed in the first three states, her strong debate performance in Nevada last week may have given her campaign new life.

Pence aide says intel report of Russia helping Trump is "false information"

Marc Short. Screenshot: Fox News

Marc Short, chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, claimed on "Fox News Sunday" that the White House has not received intelligence that Russia is seeking to help President Trump win re-election, calling it "false information" that has been selectively leaked by Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee.

The big picture: Short and national security adviser Robert O'Brien both dismissed reports published in the Washington Post and New York Times last week about a briefing provided by top election security official Shelby Pierson, an aide to outgoing acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire.

Bernie's juggernaut

Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks in San Antonio last night with his wife, Jane. Photo: Eric Gay/AP

Sen. Bernie Sanders won so big in the Nevada caucuses that Democrats are hard-pressed to sketch a way he's not their nominee.

Driving the news: With 60% of precincts counted (slow, but better than Iowa!), Sanders is running away with 46% of delegates — crushing Joe Biden's 20%, Pete Buttigieg's 15%, Sen. Elizabeth Warren's 10% and Sen. Amy Klobuchar's 5%.