We have dedicated several articles to Facebook and its problem with misinformation. It is an issue that plagues most of social media, but Facebook seems to a particularly fertile breeding ground for misinformation in recent years. To the company’s credit, it has been taking active steps to combat the spread of misinformation on its platform, but for every step forward it takes, it seemingly takes two steps back.
The latest effort to provide clarity and context to content on its platform comes in the form of labels for Pages.
Currently being tested out in the United States, over the coming weeks and months Facebook will be gradually adding labels to Pages in a bid to create context. As such, when you see a post from or visit a page, you may see a label like Satire Page or Fan Page. Each of these labels will have a description and explain why a Page has been labelled so, if you click on the labels that is.
Starting today in the US, we’re testing a way to give people more context about the Pages they see. We’ll gradually start applying labels including 'public official,' 'fan page' or 'satire page' to posts in News Feed, so people can better understand who they’re coming from. pic.twitter.com/Bloc3b2ycb
— Facebook Newsroom (@fbnewsroom) April 7, 2021
Whether these will have the desired effect of letting users “better understand” who the posts they are seeing or choosing to share are coming from, remains to be seen.
Facebook has given a handful of examples for labels, but it is unclear how many different labels it has developed or indeed plans to develop in future.
Unfortunately our inner cynics don’t hold out much hope for the new labels to work. This as context is often discarded when a post or piece of content goes viral. These labels can also easily be ignored if there is a coordinated attempt to make a post go viral.
While we like to see Facebook take measures in combat misinformation, perhaps swifter and harsher punishment for those Pages that actively share and post misinformation is needed too.