In lengthy post, Zuckerberg details new ways Facebook is combating fake news

Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg just shared a lengthy post that reads like a mission statement for his platform. The 6,000-word post covers everything from fake news to civic engagement, as well as how Facebook can play a role in fixing these — and other –global issues.

Whereas much of the information in the note isn’t exactly new — Zuckerberg touts Facebook’s safety check and emergency relief tools as helping to make the world safer — it does offer an insight into the company’s developments on the fake news front.

Zuckerberg mentions that Facebook is using artificial intelligence to reduce the spread of what it deems “sensationalist” news stories. The machine learning algorithms Facebook is relying upon to police its site, which is home to 1.86 billion users, can now spot lurid articles on its News Feed based on user activity.

According to the Facebook founder, the News Feed AI is using a new signal that indicates whether people actually read an article they are sharing. If many users don’t bother reading an article that is gaining traction, and if the ones that do read it, don’t then share it, that indicates the news story is “sensational.” Research has shown that the majority of people don’t engage with the links they share online, meaning digging deeper could help Facebook determine if that has something to do with the content of the piece.

Zuckerberg says the same signal will soon allow its AI to identify “sensationalist” publishers as well. “Sensationalism moves people away from balanced, nuanced opinions toward polarized extremes,” writes the Facebook CEO. “If this continues and we lose common understanding, then even if we eliminated all misinformation, people would just emphasize different sets of facts to fit their polarized opinions.”

Facebook is currently working with its users and third-party fact-checking organizations to better identify and tag articles that spread misinformation and propaganda. It launched its new tools in Germany last month to coincide with the country’s upcoming elections.

Elsewhere in the extensive post, Zuckerberg mentions that Facebook needs to evolve its community standards (the policies that govern its site) “toward a system of more local governance.” To this end, the company plans to hand over more personal control to users to let them decide what they don’t want to see.

Zuckerberg says Facebook will periodically ask users for feedback on content policy, likely in the form of surveys, and use its AI to help enforce the standards. The CEO compares the move to a referendum that will then help establish the norms for a particular country. “Although we will still block content based on standards and local laws, our hope is that this system of personal controls and democratic referenda should minimize restrictions on what we can share,” writes Zuckerberg.

The idea of shaping policy to fit certain regions could help with a major barrier to Facebook’s future growth: China. The social network is banned in the country and, by some accounts, is willing to go to extra lengths to operate in the region. Allowing for localized rules and regulations (that abide by China’s strict online censorship policy) could provide a breakthrough. However, this route also contradicts Zuckerberg’s so-called democratic approach.

Overall, Zuckerberg details five points in the note:

  • Building supportive communities that strengthen traditional institutions.
  • Building a safe community that prevents harm, helps during crises and rebuilds afterward.
  • Building an informed community that exposes us to new ideas and builds common understanding.
  • Building a civically engaged community.
  • Building an inclusive community that reflects collective values and common humanity from local to global levels.

The Facebook founder ends the lengthy post with a quote from Abraham Lincoln. It’s a fitting conclusion to another statesman-like declaration from the entrepreneur. With all the recent talk around Zuckerberg’s political ambitions, the post reminds us that he is already the leader of a community that boasts a population larger than any in the offline world. And Zuckerberg (and his administration) are helping to create new forms of governance for this massive platform. Why would he trade that perch for anything else?


The Galaxy A8s is Samsung's first with a hole-punch camera cutout

Samsung is building exciting, technologically innovative midrange phones, and the latest to be revealed is the new Samsung Galaxy A8s, which may give us an idea of what the new Samsung Galaxy S10 will look like.

Not ready for the new 'Fortnite' winter wonderland? Here's our tourist guide

Fortnite season 7 has arrived with some chilly winter air and some pretty hefty changes to the Battle Royale map. We've got the full guide to all of the map changes, new locations, new terrain, and more, right here.

Microsoft asks Edge Insiders for help with its new browser development

If you want to be among the first to try Microsoft's new Edge browser that's built on Google's open-source Chromium rendering engine, you can sign up to be an Edge Insider. Microsoft is asking users to provide feedback.
Social Media

This event topped Facebook’s biggest moments of the year — again

As the year comes to a close, Facebook is looking back on what users discussed most over the last year. For two years in a row, International Women's Day topped the list. So what else is on the list?
Social Media

You can now share saved Facebook posts with a Pinterest-like collection tool

Facebook collections can now be shared with friends if you also want to allow them to contribute to the list. Facebook is rolling out an update that allows users to add a contributor to their collections, or lists of saved Facebook posts.

Broadway actor tells Kanye West to get off his phone during opening night

Theater actors can get understandably upset when they spot someone in the audience fiddling with their phone instead of watching the show. The other night that audience member was Kanye West, and he got called out for it.
Social Media

This band owns Twitter, according to list of top accounts and tweets for 2018

What was the biggest buzz on Twitter in 2018? Twitter's 2018 Year in Review highlights the biggest tweets, accounts, and hashtags. The most-tweeted celebrities, movies, TV shows, athletes, politicians and more in Twitter's 2018 trends.
Social Media

What do yodeling and Kylie Jenner have in common? YouTube’s top 2018 videos

In a true nod to the variety found on YouTube, the platform's top 10 list of videos from 2018 range from celebrities to sports, from perfectly tossing a picture frame on the wall to a kid yodeling in aisle 12 at Walmart.
Home Theater

It took Tom Cruise to raise awareness of this troublesome TV setting

Tom Cruise, in an unexpected PSA tweet, asks you to turn off motion interpolation on your TV, but stops short of how to do it. Here's more on the topic, along with links to a guide on how to rid your TV of the dreaded "soap opera effect."

Make a GIF of your favorite YouTube video with these great tools

Making a GIF from a YouTube video is easier today than ever, but choosing the right tool for the job isn't always so simple. In this guide, we'll teach you how to make a GIF from a YouTube video with our two favorite online tools.

Amazon scouted airport locations for its cashier-free Amazon Go stores

Representatives of Amazon Go checkout-free retail stores connected with officials at Los Angeles and San Jose airports in June to discuss the possibility of cashier-free grab-and-go locations in busy terminals.
Social Media

Snapchat facial recognition could soon power a new portrait mode, code suggests

Digging into Snapchat's code suggests a handful of upcoming camera features, including a portrait mode. The feature appears to use facial recognition A.I. to blur the background. The code also suggests an updated camera interface.

Google+ continues to sink with a second massive data breach. Abandon ship now

Google+ was scheduled to shut its doors in August 2019, but the second security breach in only a few months has caused the company to move its plan forward a few months. It might be a good idea to delete your account sooner than later.
Social Media

Walkie-talkie voice messaging finally comes to Instagram

In its latest grab from messaging apps, Instagram now lets you send walkie-talkie style voice messages. Apps such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Snapchat, and iMessage have offered the feature for some time.