Facebook refutes claims that it withheld an update to battle hoaxes

Facebook refutes claims that it withheld an update to battle hoaxes. Facebook developed a tool that would battle against fake news and hoaxes in the News Feed but never released it, a bombshell report from Gizmodo alleged Monday. That tool, which would been an update to News Feed that "down-ranked" misinformation, reportedly went unreleased over fears that Facebook would appear partisan. "The article’s allegation is not true," the spokesperson said in an email, which then reiterated a statement already published elsewhere. In an unusually defensive status update published late Saturday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg downplayed his company's impact on voters' opinions. Mashable recently used CrowdTangle, a tool Facebook bought on Friday, to determine that just one bogus news story reached a potential audience of more than 2 million people once it hit the social network. Bias is off brand Mark Zuckerberg wants Facebook to "connect the world," and that can't happen if people feel divided by the social network — or if they interpret the company's decisions as supporting one political view over another. If Facebook made a change to its News Feed now, right-wing supporters might claim that the social network is kowtowing to the left. So there's a tightrope walk: Facebook makes incremental changes to its News Feed, as it promised to following reports of fake news last week, but its language is very carefully chosen to suggest that users have urged for a change — not leadership. Read that over again: Facebook isn't saying that any information distributed on its platform is a problem — but its users are, so the company will consider a change.

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, center, waits on stage before the start of a panel discussion held as part of the China Development Forum at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, Saturday, March 19, 2016.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, center, waits on stage
before the start of a panel discussion held as part of the China
Development Forum at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing,
Saturday, March 19, 2016.

Facebook developed a tool that would battle against fake news
and hoaxes in the News Feed but never released it, a bombshell

report
from Gizmodo alleged Monday.

That tool, which would been an update to News Feed that “down-ranked” misinformation, reportedly went unreleased over fears
that Facebook would appear partisan. At the time, the social
network was reeling from a
report
that human editors could act on their political biases
when selecting stories for Facebook’s “Trending” feature.

Scrambling to address the report, a Facebook spokesperson told
Mashable that the claim is completely false.

“The article’s allegation is not true,” the spokesperson said in
an email, which then reiterated a statement already published
elsewhere.

“We did not build and withhold any News Feed changes based on
their potential impact on any one political party,” it said. “We
always work to make News Feed more meaningful and informative, and
that includes examining the quality and accuracy of items shared,
such as clickbait, spam and hoaxes.”

True or not, the latest salvo hits as the social network is
battling critics who claim that it allowed the spread of fake news
during the presidential campaign season, potentially influencing
the election.

In an unusually defensive
status update
published late Saturday, Facebook CEO Mark
Zuckerberg downplayed his company’s impact on voters’ opinions.

“Of all the content on Facebook, more than 99% of what people
see is authentic. Only a very small amount is fake news and hoaxes.
The hoaxes that do exist are not limited to one…

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