Facebook tests new plan to reduce the spread of conspiracy theories

Facebook is often a lightening rod for criticism and to be honest, there are many things that the social media network does that look bad when it comes to protecting one’s privacy, or in the dissemination of conspiracy theories. In an attempt to deal with the latter, Facebook announced on Monday that it is testing something new. Before an article can be shared on the platform, Facebook will suggest that it be read first.
This new feature will be tested on 6% of Facebook users globally who use the Android platform. By suggesting to users that they completely read a story before sharing it, Facebook hopes to cut back on the number of misleading articles being passed along by subscribers because of an inflammatory headline that riles users’ passions before the whole story is read and digested.

Facebook announced the test on Twitter, showing an image of what prompt users will see when they try to share a story without reading it. It says, “You’re about to share this article without opening it. Sharing articles without reading them may mean missing key facts.” The prompt offers two options allowing the user to open the article or continue sharing the content without reading it.

Keep in mind that Facebook isn’t forcing a user to read a story without sharing it. Users can select the option to open the story and never read it before sharing the content. Or, they can skip the subterfuge and tap to continue sharing the story without reading it. While it isn’t clear whether this new feature can slow down the spread of baseless conspiracies on Facebook, a similar plan used by Twitter appeared to show some positive results.

Twitter tested a similar feature last June and expanded the test to cover more of its users in September. The test revealed that the prompts led users to open articles 40% more often. Ultimately, if the tests prove successful, Twitter and Facebook could expand the feature to cover all of their subscribers.





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