Facebook ‘used secret tools’ to deal with fake news... about Facebook

Rob Waugh
Contributor
Mark Zuckerberg has faced criticism over his handling of 'fake news' (Photo by Mustafa Yalcin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Facebook has had a series of scandals related to ‘fake news’ on the network, and in particular its effect on elections around the world.

But when it comes to one victim of ‘fake news’, Facebook took serious measures to deal with the problem.

A report by Bloomberg describes how Facebook staff used secret tools called Stormchaser and Night’s Watch (named after Game of Thrones) to track down hoaxes.

Staff used the tools to track down and deal with hoaxes including posts which claimed that Facebook would start charging people to use the service.

Other hoaxes dealt with by the team centred on the popular myth that Facebook ‘listens to’ users via their microphones - or that Mark Zuckerberg is an alien.

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Facebook has faced repeated scandals over privacy - including a data leak affecting 30 million people, the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and controversy over ‘fake news’.

Author David Kirkpatrick, who Mark Zuckerberg encouraged to write the 2010 book The Facebook Effect, warned that advertisers could start to shun the platform.

Research last year suggested that young people are deserting Facebook.

A survey from Pew Foundation found that the top website among kids aged between 13 and 17 is YouTube, which was used by 85% of the teens involved in the study.

In second place was Instagram (72%) followed by Snapchat (79%).

Facebook’s crackdown on misleading and divisive content - including ‘fake news’ - may have put people off the site, researchers believe.

Mark Zuckerberg’s effort to take control of divisive and hateful content, including a shift towards posts from family and friends, have led to a drop in the amount of time users spend on the site.

Facebook altered its algorithm to prioritise posts from family over shared news links - but the move has coincided with a drop in the time people spend on the social network.

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