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Facebook tweaks News Feed to cut down on hoax posts

If you ever find yourself spending a little too much time wading through fake drivel on your Facebook News Feed, it seems help is finally at hand.

In an effort to flag up hoax or misleading stories and hopefully save you time and hassle in the process, the social networking giant is now adding an annotation to posts that have been widely reported as time-wasting content.

In addition, if enough Facebook users report a post as false or misleading, it’ll get reduced distribution in the News Feed, which should result in fewer users being bothered by disingenuous content and the surfacing of more high-quality content.

But take note – in a post announcing Tuesday’s News Feed update, Facebook said it won’t be removing stories people report as false, nor will it be spending any time reviewing content to determine its accuracy, so those pesky false stories will still be lurking in the background.

Related: Facebook testing voice-to-text feature for incoming messages

The company says that at the moment many users share a story that looks interesting, only to delete it later once they realize it’s fake. Such posts “tend to receive lots of comments from friends letting people know this is a hoax, and comments containing links to hoax-busting websites.” As a consequence, the News Feed now offers a new “it’s a false news story” option when a user goes to hide a story. This has been worked into the feature’s algorithm so it now takes note of when many people highlight a post as false or when many users delete it, resulting in the red-flag annotation and reduced distribution.

Apparently in response to some user concerns, Facebook explains that the changes shouldn’t result in satirical content vanishing from News Feeds as most users “tend not to report” content that’s intended to be humorous.

As far as publishers are concerned, the company says the “vast majority” will not be affected by the update, while a small number posting “hoaxes and scams” will see their distribution drop. And hopefully that means your News Feed will now cause a little less frustration from hereon in.