the main vector for disseminating fake news has been identified

Since last September, the revelations of the former Facebook employee, Frances Haugen, have been a bombshell for the company. The whistleblower says, based on thousands of internal documents, that the tech giant favors the search for profit to the detriment of the well-being of its users. The company denies these accusations outright and you can find the reminder of the facts in our dedicated article. It is particularly about Instagram and differentiated moderation.

On Facebook, the share button amplifies the spread of fake news

The mass of documents revealed is so great that we continue to make discoveries. Thus, a study conducted in 2019 highlights the power of the share button and the risks that this feature brings in terms of disinformation.

In detail, Facebook researchers noted that Internet users are four times more likely to see fake news when they encounter a post distributed via a share. In the case of India, which has been targeted in this analysis, people who reach the end of the sharing chain are twenty times more likely to come across misinformation.

Based on this observation, the experts then recommended a modification of this functionality which would be much more effective than hiring an army of new moderators. It would therefore be a question of slowing down sharing, or even blocking them in certain cases to drastically slow down the dissemination of fake news.

This is precisely the option retained by WhatsApp, Facebook’s messaging system, which introduced a maximum number of shares, the latter being limited to five shares. The measure would have been very effective and measures show a 70% decrease in the dissemination of false news messages. For the time being, however, Facebook has not opted for the same strategy for its main application.

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