Last year, there were several occasions when leading social media platforms and search providers were caught completely off guard and became unwitting partners in the spread of misinformation campaigns and unsubstantiated news reports.
We are now seeing these prominent technology platforms respond to widespread criticism and launch a number of preventive and remedial processes and policies to combat this trend without having to play the role of doorkeepers themselves; or as Mark Zuckerburg succinctly phrases it in this post, “We do not want to be arbiters of truth ourselves, but instead rely on our community and trusted third parties.”
Through a series of blog posts on newsroom.fb.com, Facebook has been sharing how it intends to facilitate this effort.
Facebook has stopped personalizing the topics listed under trending news to a user’s preferences and is instead highlighting news articles getting wide visibility and engagement across the board.
It is also making its advertising policies stricter to prevent discrimination and testing its machine learning technology to help it identify advertisers that violate these policies.
According to the news and information site searchengineland.com, Google is teaching its search algorithms to better spot offensive, factually incorrect results.
As a part of this program, Google has built a team of 10,000 contractors worldwide to flag potentially dubious links in the top results page and teach its ‘human coders’ who write search algorithms, as well as its machine learning programs.
On its official blog, Twitter has explained how it’s taking tangible steps to stop the creation of new abusive accounts, removing potentially sensitive contact from blocked or muted accounts from search results, and collapsing potentially abusive and low-quality replies.
In addition, in a first public initiative of this kind, Facebook and Google are partnering with journalists across France in the ‘Crosscheck’ project to help citizens make informed choices ahead of the 2017 French election.
Given the higher awareness across the globe about the irreparable harm fake and malicious stories, facts and targeting can cause, it’s to be hoped that this is a trend that is here to stay and will only gain momentum in the coming months.