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Facebook Cracking Down on Hoax News Stories

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Facebook will be cracking down on bogus news articles by inviting its users to flag potentially phony posts.

To allow Facebook users to report a dodgy news story they have placed a new option in the pop-up menus attached to each post on the website. Before users could use this to report a post for being annoying or distasteful, pornographic, against your views, or showing violence or harm to a person or animal – and now you can also send a report if the link is to a fake news story (purposefully fake or deceitful, a hoax disproved by a reliable source).

Facebook says this will remove the post from your personal news feed but does not guarantee it will be taken off Facebook altogether. It will go some way towards helping identify offending sites so they may be removed later. If a link is clearly marked as intended for humour, satire or parody then chances are it will not be affected. This will mean immunity for some of our favourite spoof sites such as The Daily Mash, The Onion and Kayfabe News (for the grapple fans).

Social network sites are one of the most useful sources of news with over 864 million daily active users on Facebook alone sharing up to the minute new stories from around the globe. Many of us refer to the news feeds over a daily newspaper but more often than not these are legitimate and informative but on occasion a hoax article may slip out and go viral. A lot of these are intended in good humour such as the recent suggestion that there would be a ‘Zero Gravity Day’ this January where we would all become temporarily weightless, which was actually a rehash of a hoax told in 1976. And then there was that bird with the three boobs..

However other times they can be used maliciously, suggesting that beloved celebs have passed away and names such as Jackie Chan, Ricky Martin and Macaulay Culkin have recently responded on social media outlets to widespread claims that they had died. These hoaxes can be upsetting to not only the celebs but also fans that’ve been sucked in by the believability of the lie.

What’s worse still is that it also makes it very hard to know when someone has actually died. It’s a one of the sad commentaries on online social life which Facebook is thankfully beginning to acknowledge.