Finally! With the rise of social media and the dominance of Facebook came the rise of hoax stories or fake news stories/articles which in turn was used as propaganda for hate, discrimination, abuses and manipulation of public opinion. In response, Facebook introduced a feature back in January 20, 2016 which allowed users to flag or report a news story as a hoax or fake. This feature back then was only available to users in the United States. Erich Owens, Software Engineer, and Udi Weinsberg, Research Scientist for Facebook explained in a post:
We’re always looking to people on Facebook to tell us how we can improve this experience. We’ve heard from people that they want to see fewer stories that are hoaxes, or misleading news. Today’s update to News Feed reduces the distribution of posts that people have reported as hoaxes and adds an annotation to posts that have received many of these types of reports to warn others on Facebook.
Now it’s available for users in the Philippines where the proliferation of fake news stories have become the weapon of choice for political operatives in influencing public opinion and the national discussion whether they are supportive of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and his much criticized and controversial war on illegal drugs and recently, his ordering of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, a national shrine for its fallen heroes, or critical of his policies.
Various personalities and groups have taken to Facebook to drum up support for Duterte or voice their criticisms which is important in a democracy. However, things have become out of hand as both supporters and critics have directly or indirectly used and produced fake news stories for their cause. In the end though, the level and quality of public discourse has suffered. As manipulation of information, statistics, photos even blatant fabrication of fake stories and lies has led to abuse and widening of divisions and disagreements, hatred and mass psychosis. It has become harder to tell what is true from what is a lie.
To report a link on Facebook as fake news:
1) Click on the “v” menu in the upper-right corner of the post. A menu pops up, choose “Report post”
2) Choose “I think it shouldn’t be on Facebook.”
3) Now select “It’s a false news story.”
4) Next options for unfriending, unfollowing or completely blocking your friend or page that posted the hoax or fake news. There’s even an option of messaging your friend to let him or her know that you think the link is hoax or fake.
Good job! You just helped Facebook identify which content is a hoax or fake news. The links you report won’t be deleted but will be marked with a message warning people that many others on Facebook have reported it. Hopefully, this will help in cleaning up our news feeds and taking back the Internet.