Facebook is doing a survey wherein it is asking users to rate articles on the basis of “misleading language,” according to TechCrunch. In recent times, the company has faced heat over the issue of fake news, with many blaming it for not handling the situation the way it should. Now it seems the company wants users to help it by telling what, according to them, is fake, and to what extent.
A first of its kind from Facebook
Chris Krewson of Philadelphia’s Billy Penn noticed the Facebook survey first. The survey accompanied a Philadelphia Inquirer article about the firing of a well-known nut vendor for publicly espousing white nationalist views.
In the survey, the social network asks users, “To what extent do you think that this link’s title uses misleading language?” The response choices range from “Not at all” to “Completely.” Users can also choose to dismiss it or just scroll past.
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— Chris Krewson (@ckrewson) December 5, 2016
The company confirmed the survey news to TechCrunch but refrained from answering questions about how it works, how collected data is used and others.
The company has used such surveys in the past as well to test the general quality of news feeds and used other metrics to define rules for finding clickbait and fake stories. However, Facebook’s latest effort is undoubtedly the first of its kind and can be said to be a hybrid of two old practices, states TechCrunch.
What’s the real intent?
All these developments follow comments from Facebook’s Eliott Schrage, who said the presidential election made the company realize that it has a “role in assessing the validity of content people share.”
Zuckerberg had acknowledged the issue of fake news on the platform, but his defensive and dismissive demeanor did not sit very well with critics. This survey, however, can be seen as an effort from Facebook to be transparent in designing its algorithms so that it can detect misleading headlines.
On the other hand, the company is also creating a rich database by surveying its users. This database can be used anyway and anytime. It can also be argued that since users are the ones who disseminate fake news, how well the survey will work or whether it can give genuine results is questionable.
Veteran social media commentator John Herrmann and David Carr Fellow at The New York Times noted that Facebook’s recent survey is an indication of the company’s belief that it is not a media company, but rather, it’s a platform and a self-regulating marketplace.