Facebook promises fewer hoax stories in your News Feed

A new feature will allow Facebook users to report hoax stories appearing in their News Feed. But Facebook is stopping short of removing content, instead offering a warning for readers.

Claire Reilly Former Principal Video Producer
Claire Reilly was a video host, journalist and producer covering all things space, futurism, science and culture. Whether she's covering breaking news, explaining complex science topics or exploring the weirder sides of tech culture, Claire gets to the heart of why technology matters to everyone. She's been a regular commentator on broadcast news, and in her spare time, she's a cabaret enthusiast, Simpsons aficionado and closet country music lover. She originally hails from Sydney but now calls San Francisco home.
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  • Webby Award Winner (Best Video Host, 2021), Webby Nominee (Podcasts, 2021), Gold Telly (Documentary Series, 2021), Silver Telly (Video Writing, 2021), W3 Award (Best Host, 2020), Australian IT Journalism Awards (Best Journalist, Best News Journalist 2017)
Claire Reilly
2 min read

Facebook is cracking down on hoax stories appearing in the News Feed. Facebook

Facebook is updating its News Feed with a feature designed to reduce the number of fake and hoax stories that users see, but the social network says your daily dose of satire should remain unaffected.

In an update on its blog, Facebook said it was acting on feedback from users that "want to see fewer stories that are hoaxes, or misleading news" mixed into their News Feed amongst other updates from friends. These hoaxes might be deliberately false stories ("Big Foot sighting!") or the more run-of-the-mill "100 free iPads" scams, which Facebook said some people often share without realising the story is fake.

In order to combat the issue, Facebook has added an option to report stories in the News Feed as false:

This works in the same way as reporting a story as spam. When you click to hide a story you also have the option to report the content. Stories that include scams, or deliberately misleading news, are reported two and a half times more often than links to other news stories.

To reduce the number of these types of posts, News Feed will take into account when many people flag a post as false. News Feed will also take into account when many people choose to delete posts. This means a post with a link to an article that many people have reported as a hoax or chosen to delete will get reduced distribution in News Feed.

Facebook won't actually cut the posts, but if one of these stories does make its way into your News Feed, it will be coupled with a warning message.

The warning message that will accompany suspected hoax stories. Facebook

As for satirical content, the social network says you should still continue to see those stories.

"We've found from testing that people tend not to report satirical content intended to be humorous, or content that is clearly labeled as satire," Facebook said. "This type of content should not be affected by this update."

Facebook similarly said that "the vast majority of publishers" on the social network shouldn't be affected, but that the few that who frequently post hoaxes and scams "will see their distribution decrease".