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Facebook's groups to highlight experts

The social network has been trying to combat misinformation by elevating authoritative sources.

Facebook says it wants to elevate experts in groups.
Sarah Tew/CNET

Facebook will label group experts.

Queenie Wong/CNET

Facebook said Tuesday it's giving users who manage groups a way to designate experts in the online spaces, a tool that's partly meant to help the social network combat misinformation.

The social media company has been trying to direct users to more authoritative sources as false information spreads online about the coronavirus, vaccines and other topics. Groups are online spaces, which can be public or private, where Facebook users gather to chat about everything from hiking to parenting to cooking. The feature has also been used by extremists, white supremacists and conspiracy theorists, raising concerns that Facebook isn't doing enough to crack down on content that violates its rules. 

If people accept the role as an expert in a group, they'll receive a badge next to their name so others know they're knowledgeable about a certain topic. The company said it's making the tool available to select groups on desktop and mobile. Facebook is also testing a way for some users specializing in fitness and gaming to identify topics they know a lot about. The administrator of a group can then find these people by way of a search and invite them to join the group as an expert, allowing them to stand out.

There are more than 70 million administrators and moderators running active groups, Facebook says. When asked how they're vetting the qualifications of designated experts, a Facebook spokesperson said it's "all up the discretion of the admin to designate experts who they believe are knowledgeable on certain topics." The company has pulled down groups in the past because of they had the potential to incite violence or mislead others about their identity and purpose.