Facebook Backpedals From Its Recent Propensity For Censorship
Facebook has, in recent weeks, revealed a propensity for data collection, collusion with the federal government against the citizens (in the name of "democracy", mind you), and flagging/blocking content that they deem as "fake news". They have, albeit partially, taken a step back.
It would seem at first glance to be an honorable thing to "fight disinformation". To catch those in the act of spreading lies and deceit, and stop it before it spreads-but wait. What does it mean to catch disinformation? It automatically signals an autonomous body capable of deeming any article as "false" if there is a more common website that disagrees.
Replacing Disputed Flags With Related Articles
In a move that "USA Today" decided to title a "Facebook fail", the social media mogul has decided to ditch its propensity for flagging and censorship, and instead, bring up "related articles" that go against the premise of the article in your "news" feed, or, as stated by Facebook's press release on the matter, "to give people more context about the story". Facebook has hinted however within the same press release that while the "disputed flag" is no longer, censorship (penalizing/demoting content) in general still is, as they state, "one of our greatest weapons". They continue to boast, "demoted articles generally lose 80% of their traffic". Apparently, the idea of replacing flagged content with "related articles" found its beginnings early in the year, as it began as a "test" in April. One could only assume therefore, that the results of the test deemed that the best results come when readers are critical thinkers.
The Answer Is Skepticism
In "Designing Against Misinformation" Facebook creators wrote that "Dispelling misinformation is challenging. Just because something is marked as 'false' or 'disputed', doesn't necessarily mean we will be able to change someone's opinion about its accuracy." This is true. For some of the more conspiratorially minded, it may even act as a stamp of truth. Albeit they continue by pointing out that for an article to be marked as "disputed" required 2 fact-checkers, and then immediately thereafter point out that "There are also the rare circumstances when 2 fact-checking organizations disagree about the rating for a given article". The dispute, in other words, is disputed. Great. Meanwhile, they are prepared to "penalize" the content on my Facebook page instead of allowing me to be a critical thinker, and decide where I wish to receive my information, and whom I decide to trust.