ST. PETERSBURG (FOX 13) - Facebook took a step this week that, along with the help of several fact-checking sources, could make it easier for users to filter out "fake news."
The website came under fire after the presidential election for not doing enough to stop the spread of false information. In response, executives announced a partnership with five sources, including St. Pete-based Politifact, to flag stories that aren't true.
"All we're trying to do is help people better understand the information that they're consuming on a daily basis," said Aaron Sharockman, executive director of Politifact. "We see is that there are people who are writing stories, creating information that is fake on purpose for financial gain. So that's not journalism. We're not questioning journalism in this case. We're questioning stories that are false on purpose to generate pageviews which leads to revenue."
The pilot program, which will only be available to a fraction of Facebook users at first, will allow a user to flag an article as "fake."
If enough people do so, Facebook will send the story to its fact-checking sources: Politifact, ABC News, FactCheck.org, the Associated Press, and Snopes.
"We're really targeting the worst of the worst offenders," Sharockman told FOX 13. "We want to get that misinformation out of the system, out of ecosystem and have it replaced with good, transparent, objective information."
The fact-checkers have agreed to adhere to Poynter Institute's guidelines for transparency.
A lot of Facebook users are welcoming a fake-news filter.
"Fake news on Facebook is a huge issue," said Maureen Opala, a high school teacher in Tampa. "As a teacher, the kids see it all the time on Facebook and then they want to talk about it all during class and debate whether it's real or not."
Although Facebook has promised to be impartial, critics worry this will end up targeting legitimate conservative news sites.