Fake news fallout: Facebook starts asking users if headlines are accurate

Facebook is turning to its user base to help solve its clickbait and fake news problems.

Facebook has a big problem with fake news stories that are spread on the social network, and now it’s hoping users can help. People are reporting that Facebook is asking them survey questions to help determine whether news headlines are accurate.

It’s not clear how many people are included in this survey or what, exactly, Facebook plans to do with the information it collects. Nevertheless, this appears to be part of Facebook’s plans to deal with the issues of clickbait and fake news that are plaguing the social network.

“To what extent do you think that this link’s title withholds key details of the story?” reads one of the questions. While the second is, “To what extent do you think that this link’s title uses misleading language?” Respondents then have five responses they can choose: Not at all, Slightly, Somewhat, Very much, or Completely.

fake news Chris Krewson

What’s odd about these survey questions is that they are attached to posts from well known media outlets such as The Philadelphia Inquirer and Rolling Stone. Granted, there aren’t enough examples made public to see if less reputable sites are being polled as well. As we saw during our partisan news test on Facebook there are tons of fake news sites pumping stories into Facebook that the social network could poll users about.

Nevertheless, it’s clear that Facebook is not automatically whitelisting established media organizations. That suggests the test, or at least parts of it, could be judging users just as much as they are judging news stories.

After all, fake news and clickbait headlines spread because of users who either can’t tell when a news story is fake or aren’t reading further before sharing. And almost everyone is susceptible to sharing a fake story or something with a misleading headline.

The story behind the story: Failing to dig further can sometimes have harmless results. In October, for example, people on social media—including some of my own friends on Facebook—shared news of the death of programmer Dennis Ritchie. The creator of Unix and the C programming language died in 2011, but people failed to check the date of the article and it didn’t take long for the news to go viral.

The results of fake news are not always so amusing, however, as we saw recently with the Pizzagate shooting.

It’s good to see Facebook making efforts to curb both fake news and clickbait on the social network. But it’s not remotely clear what the aims of this survey might actually be.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags Facebook

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Ian Paul

PC World (US online)
Show Comments



Sansai 6-Outlet Power Board + 4-Port USB Charging Station

Learn more >



Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?