Skip to main content

Facebook’s new fake news tool is partially powered by Wikipedia


Facebook is launching new tools to help users better assess news sources — by using the crowdsourced Wikipedia. On Tuesday, April 3, Facebook began rolling out new “About This Article” tools in the U.S. after launching tests last year.

When tapping on the “i” icon, which animates to display About This Article if scrolling pauses over the article, a pop-up shows details about the source. The section leads with the publication’s Wikipedia entry, if there is one. Depending on the information available, those details are followed by related articles, sharing statistics and even a map of where the article has been shared from. For publications that don’t exist on Wikipedia, Facebook will indicate that the information isn’t available, which could be a red flag.

While those features were part of the tool’s early tests, Facebook is also expanding the data in the first widespread rollout. The About This Article can also display more articles from the same publication while another section will indicate which friends shared the same content.

Along with the U.S. rollout, Facebook is also testing additional features to add to the tool that look at not just the publication, but the author as well. Users that are part of this test will also see the author’s Wikipedia information, other articles from the same writer, and a button to choose to follow that author. The tool only works with publications using Facebook’s author tags to display the byline with the link preview, and for now, is just a test.

Facebook says that the tool was developed with the Facebook Journalism Project — and that the platform is continually looking for ways to add more context to news sources.

Facebook isn’t the first social platform to turn to Wikipedia to provide more details on a source. YouTube is adding Wikipedia links to videos that are related to a known list of conspiracy theories. That list is also created from Wikipedia. YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said that the feature is designed to help users determine which videos are trustworthy.

Social media platforms are facing backlash from the effects of fake news, but at the same time, are also facing scrutiny on regulations that could inhibit free speech or lean more towards one side of the political spectrum. By using a crowdsourced article, Facebook could be looking to avoid the responsibility of labeling whether or not a source is trustworthy by doling out that task to others. Wikipedia’s crowdsourced information can potentially help prevent one-sided presentations, but at the same time, academics often label the platform as unreliable for the same reason.

Editors' Recommendations

Hillary K. Grigonis
Hillary never planned on becoming a photographer—and then she was handed a camera at her first writing job and she's been…
Facebook is getting interested in news again with News Tab launch
Facebook Logo

News junkies on Facebook will be pleased to know that the social networking giant is about to launch its News Tab feature.

The unveiling will take place at a special event in New York City on Friday, October 25, with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg — fresh from his appearance before the House Financial Services Committee — and Robert Thomson, chief executive of News Corp., doing the honors.

Read more
Facebook is hiring actual human journalists to fight fake news
How to spot fake news

Facebook is looking to hire journalists whose job will be to fight fake news on your news feed. 

The New York Times reports that the new initiative will be called News Tab. The social media giant said it plans to hire a team of journalists that will curate a dedicated news section within the mobile app. Facebook posted job listings for journalists on Tuesday, August 20. 

Read more
Facebook to shake up its news content in a deal worth millions for publishers

Facebook is prepping the launch of a "news tab" that could see media outlets paid millions of dollars in exchange for their content.

News of the plan first appeared in the Wall Street Journal on Thursday, August 8, and was later confirmed by Facebook to Digital Trends, though the social networking giant declined to offer any specific details about the initiative.

Read more