Facebook, Looking to Curb Misinformation, Is Starting to Prompt Users to Read Articles Before Sharing

Facebook is hoping to cut the fast spread of misinfromation on its platform by checking to see whether someone has read a news story before they share it on the massive social platform.

Starting Monday, Facebook said, it is testing “a way to promote more informed sharing of news articles. If you go to share a news article link you haven’t opened, we’ll show a prompt encouraging you to open it and read it, before sharing it with others.”

The move comes after Twitter made a similar change in the run-up to the 2020 U.S. president election, asking users whether they wanted to read an article before they retweeted it. That feature on Twitter also is designed to thwart the spread of misinfo.

About half of U.S. adults (53%) said they get news from social media “often” or “sometimes,” according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted Aug. 31-Sept. 7.

Critics have attacked Facebook for allowing falsehoods to proliferate unchecked on its platforms, including misinformation posted by Donald Trump and his supporters about the 2020 election that contributed to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

In March, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg appeared at a congressional hearing “Social Media’s Role in Promoting Extremism and Misinformation,” where he indirectly acknowledged Facebook’s services played a part in facilitating the Jan. 6 uprising in Washington, D.C.

But, Zuckerberg testified, “We did our part to secure the integrity of our election. Then President Trump gave a speech… calling on people to fight. I believe that the former president should be responsible for his words and the people who broke the law should be responsible for their actions.”

Facebook indefinitely suspended the former U.S. president and punted that decision to its independent Oversight Board. Last week the Oversight Board upheld that decision — but kicked the final say-so on the question of a permanent ban on Trump back to Facebook, saying the company must review the suspension of Trump within the next six months.

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