Filtrado de Noticias Falsas en Facebook/en

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In the 2016 presidential elections in the US there was controversy around fake news being spread via Facebook.It was said that these news could have influenced the result of the elections. Many of these hoaxes attacked Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party candidate, while others backed Donald Trump, the Republican Party candidate and eventual winner of the election. The sensationalist nature of many of these news caused them to spread like wildfire and reach a lot of voters. These were the 5 most popular hoaxes:

Pope Francis Endorses Donald Trump for President

FBI Agent Suspected in Hillary Email Leaks Found Dead in Apparent Murder-Suicide

Wikileaks Confirms Hillary Sold Weapons To ISIS

Just Read the Law: Hillary Is Disqualified From Holding Any Federal Office

Hillary Admits in Leaked Email That She Created ISIS

These amounted to 37771000 reactions, shares and comments on Facebook, to 2573000 of the top 5 popular news from traditional media.

There have been similar cases around the world, like the hoax of a mob of refugees burning a church in Germany. This lead Angela Merkel to threatening Facebook with 500k Euro fines for spreading fake news.

Launch of the filtering system

On January 15th 2017, at the DLD conference in Munich, Facebook announces that they will be setting up a hoax filtering system in Germany. No date is confirmed. The system will allow users to tag news as suspicious for an independent organization to investigate its veracity. In Germany this agency was said to be Correctiv, a research agency. News that are tagged more often will be given priority. News found to be fake will not be removed, but they will be marked as fake and users that share them will be notified. Facebook plans to spread the use of this system to the rest of the world, in the US the responsibility of checking the news will be of the Poynter Institute. There are no news about who will do it in Spain.

System Flaws

There are news of whose factual nature means that they can be easily verified. A terrorist attack, or a statement released by a personality, are soon found to be untrue. However, other news are not so easily refuted, for example news like "Sources close to the president say...", or "Rumors about X keep spreading".

There are also topics where the truth si debatable. For example, there are studies that prove the efficiency of Homeopathic remedies, and also studies that disprove them. Does if fall upon the verifying agency to check the scientific rigor of a report? Should they position themselves and refute anything that says the opposite? AS much as the organization tries not to have an agenda, people work there and they have opinions.

A concern about this system is that it leads the user to think that anything not tagged as fake is true, which could give news like the ones mentioned to get more credibility and repercussion.

User Precautions

The system Facebook is setting up will work well if user are aware and mark fake news as such. Most fake news come from fake new sites, which try to generate high amounts of traffic in a short time and then the close and reappear, or from groups with extreme ideologies who try to tell the ideologically related what they want to hear and sway the general public as much as they can. So before sharing an article, it is advisable to read it entirely, not just the headline. The "About Us" section of the site can give us clues about its credibility, and if it does not exist it should be considered a warning sign. Generally, if the new you just read seems shocking and is true, other media will cover it, otherwise we should trust it too much. Last of all, it is of vital importance for the user to not tag as fake everything he personally disagrees with or dislikes.

Ethical Dilemmas

It is clear that social networks have a great influence in people´s opinion. Therefore, the power of controlling which information is shared and which is discredited is something not to be taken lightly. Who guarantees that the independent organization stays independent? Does Facebook know enough of every country's situation to find a group that can truly be impartial?

Beyond that, Facebook is being treated as a news agency. Most online newspapers don't take responsibility for what users say on their comments section. Why should Facebook?

Se abre también el debate de si Facebook debería intervenir y no exponer a sus usuarios a noticias falsas, o sí Facebook debería ser un lienzo en blanco donde cada uno se expresa libremente, y actúa como un adulto para no creer todo lo que se lee.

Another debate is weather Facebook should intervene and not expose their users to fake news, or not do so and let it be a white canvas where everyone speaks freely and is trusted to act like an adult and not just believe everything they read.