Facebook is now empowering mobs of Internet trolls to flag and block information they think is “fake news” from being shared on the social network. Facebook, which has a history of suppressing conservative news and views, recently unveiled a new feature allowing users to report posts as “false news.”
“News stories that are reported as false by people on Facebook may be reviewed by independent third-party fact-checkers,” a post explaining the new feature reads. “A story may be marked as disputed if these fact-checkers find the story to be false.”
In other words, Facebook is allowing the quickest group of folks to the “report” button to keep other people from seeing information they think isn’t “real news” by reporting it to the network overlords, who can downgrade it if they feel like it. The explainer offers no standards for what constitutes “real news” versus “fake news,” indicating a Facebook contractor can decide what to flag at will. Professional fact-checkers are notoriously inaccurate and politically biased left.
Similar arbitrary standards got the network in trouble when former employees went public about how they were instructed to leave news stories published by conservative-leaning news outlets off the site’s “trending topics” sidebar. It seems people Facebook is paying will once again have the power to say what is and isn’t legitimate information worthy of distributing.
The term “fake news” or “false news” is itself problematic. Legacy media entities, like The Washington Post, The New York Times, CNN, and others, routinely use the term “fake news” as a slur to de-legitimize competitors that have different first principles. Ivy League professors have gotten in on the fun, distributing lists of news sites that are not to be trusted. The Blaze, The Washington Free Beacon, and The Daily Caller top the list of no-no sites.