Facebook Recruits Wikipedia to Fight Fake News
Ashley Allen / 6 months ago
Facebook is having an image problem (well, at least one). Specifically, it struggled since the last US election with accusations of facilitating so-called “fake news”. Specifically, such stories tend to be flagged as being fictitious propaganda. Much of this content is traced back to Russia. Though, sometimes it’s just bad clickbait. Facebook exacerbated the problem by relying on AI editor to curate content. However, in an effort to curb fake news, Facebook is u-turning on its reliance on algorithms. Instead, the platform will rely on Wikipedia to validate articles shared by users.
Facebook Recruits Wikipedia
In an effort to suppress misinformation, Facebook will mark News Feed articles with a small “i” button. Clicking on the button brings up the publisher’s Wikipedia page. Hence, Facebook will be relying on Wiki editors to report on the veracity of news sources. Facebook’s new policy is effective immediately.
Of course, using Wikipedia to fight disinformation poses its own problems. Wikipedia articles are, potentially, in a constant state of flux. Essentially, editors can revise any Wikipedia article at any time. In fact, the most popular articles can mutate within a matter of minutes, repeatedly. Locked articles, of course, are the exception. Also, Wikipedia relies on citations. However, permitted citation sources are variable in quality. This is not to say that Wikipedia is not a valuable source of information, but it is often far from precise.
Fake News, Bad Reputation
Facebook is slowly coming to terms with its inadvertent support of fake news. In fact, the company became rather defensive about it in the aftermath of the 2016 US election. Initially, CEO Mark Zuckerberg denied reports of the social network’s compromised News Feed. However, the US Senate is now requesting details about alleged Russian ad tampering. Oh, and don’t forget those targeted anti-Semitic ads. In summary, Facebook’s trustworthiness is in the toilet; it’ll take a lot to repair that reputation. Is Wikipedia the answer? I’m certainly not taking that bet.