Facebook has become a breeding ground for spreading fake news. The company’s efforts have not amounted to anything significant when it comes to curbing fake news on the platform. However, a Bloomberg report suggests that the company cares deeply about fake news related to Facebook and has dedicated tools to fight it.
During the 2016 U.S. presidential election, a hoax spread on Facebook — copy, paste and share this message with your friends, otherwise, Facebook will share your private information. The rumor was particularly effective in the U.S. and the Philippines.
Stormchaser- Facebook’s Dedicated Tool To Fight Fake News About Facebook
To counter this fake news, Facebook developed a tool called “Stormchaser” that tracked misinformation about the company, including memes on Facebook and WhatsApp. The company has time and again used Stormchaser to track such hoaxes that were “affecting” the public image of Facebook.
Some of the popular fake news stories that were tackled using the tool are a hoax: Facebook has access to the microphone in smartphones and listens to users’ private conversations, the #deleteFB trend that rose after the infamous Cambridge Analytica scandal, and many more.
As per the documents viewed by Bloomberg, Facebook went to the extent of displaying “messages” in front of users who have the tendency to share content to debunk fake news. Facebook called it “Quick Promotions” and ran several QPs to debunk fake news about its platform.
Another tool named Night’s Watch (from the popular TV series Game of Thrones) was used to get an idea on how news about Facebook spreads on its own platform and Facebook-owned messaging service, WhatsApp.
Facebook cannot view users’ messages on WhatsApp as these are encrypted. However, it can still get an idea by understanding the keywords related to the word WhatsApp whenever it is used in a Facebook post. This shows that Facebook has dedicated tools to combat fake news when it comes to its own platform, but has failed to do so for the general public.
What about the general public?
A Facebook spokesperson said that Stormchaser and other tools are not fake news debunking tools that could be used for the general public.
She said, “The tool was built with simple technology that helped us detect posts about Facebook based on keywords, so we could consider whether to respond to product confusion on our own platform. Comparing the two is a false equivalence.”
Facebook stopped using Stormchaser in mid-2018 for unknown reasons, but the tool and the underlying technology behind it still exists.
The report points fingers at Facebook preferences. Curbing fake news has become a major challenge for the platform for a long time. The company uses services of third-party companies for fact checking but the results are not up to the mark yet.
What do you think about Facebook’s priorities? Is it about time that we must boycott the platform until it deploys some foolproof measures to combat fake news?