The Facebook Inc. logo is reflected in the eyeglasses of a user in this arranged photo in San Francisco, California, U.S. (Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg)  

Facebook to Stop Showing `Disputed' Flags With Fake News

(Bloomberg) -- Facebook Inc. said it will stop showing “disputed” flags on news that third-party fact checkers mark as false -- a system it started earlier this year to try to curb the spread of fake news on the site.

The social network instead will show related articles to try to give more context around the potentially false story. Facebook is changing its response to fake news because academic research has shown that marking a story as false may “entrench deeply held beliefs,” the company said in a statement.

Facebook, with more than 2 billion average monthly users, has been criticized along with Twitter Inc. and Google’s YouTube for letting misinformation spread across their platforms, including an effort by Russian operatives to influence last year’s U.S. presidential election. The company, among a variety of responses, has altered its algorithm for the news feed to punish sites that use inflammatory language associated with fake news and tried to reward higher quality content.

Facebook worked with third-party fact checkers like PolitiFact and Snopes to go through and individually mark stories as disputed -- a process that was slow and only scratched the surface of fake content on the network, people in the program have told Bloomberg. Aaron Sharockman, the executive director of PolitiFact, said the organization’s partnership will continue, just “Facebook is changing how our work is displayed to the end user,” he said in an email.

©2017 Bloomberg L.P.