Social networking has rapidly become one of the ways many people are receiving news and information these days. In certain situations, it might also be the only way people think about what’s going on around them. Unfortunately, these resources have often been seedbeds for disinformation, both as a result of spontaneous and organized propagation of false news. Like Twitter and Facebook, attempts have been made to curb this abuse of their networks, and Facebook’s latest move is aimed precisely at stopping the spread of false COVID-19 information.
In reality, Facebook took steps back in April to alert users of COVID-19 misinformation spread through its network. Not only will it delete false messages, it would also alert users who posted such messages on their feeds. Unfortunately, this tactic proved not only unsuccessful but also confusing.
The notice will only appear on the timelines of users, often without a context. Facebook attempted to err too much on the side of caution by not pointing users to an offending post that could unintentionally make them more curious about misinformation. More than half a year later, Facebook realized it wasn’t enough.
It will now push a message to users who posted such misinformation that a post has been deleted precisely because of the infringement. But instead of keeping it that way, Facebook will actually display a thumbnail of the offending post to provide meaning. And to ensure that users are guided in the right direction, the notification will connect them to confirmed COVID-19 truth. In fact, Facebook has already taken steps back in April to alert users of COVID-19 misinformation spread across its network. Not only will it delete false messages, it would also alert users who posted such messages on their feeds. Unfortunately, this tactic proved not only unsuccessful but also confusing.
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Unsurprisingly, there are a few who still notice a lack of Facebook response. The generic warning, for example, does not explicitly answer why the specific misinformation was incorrect and presents the evidence that correct it. In addition, some even criticize Facebook for taking too long to take such bold steps, making these improvements too little, too late to make a difference