Facebook is continuing its crackdown on fake news.
The social network Monday announced Facebook Pages will no longer be able to advertise on the site if they repeatedly share news articles that are marked as false by third-party fact-checking organizations. Page owners can win back the ability to run ads if they later choose to act responsibly.
The move would limit one of the big ways that fake news spreads, since paying to boost posts is a big way for publishers to get stories in front of more people.
“We want people to stay informed on friends, family, and topics they care about on Facebook, and false news damages trust,” said Rob Leathern, product manager at Facebook. “This is mostly about removing incentivizes for the creation of false news.”
This update limits a user’s ability to growth hack a Facebook Page, as in gain followers (or Facebook “likes”) by sharing fake (but highly-engaging) news articles. Paying for Facebook ads allowed these fake news articles to appear in users’ News Feeds.
Facebook introduced a partnership with third-party fact-checkers, months after CEO Mark Zuckerberg belittled the impact of fake news on the 2016 presidential election. Shortly after the election, Zuckerberg wrote “more than 99% of what people see is authentic. Only a very small amount is fake news and hoaxes.”
Since that claim, Facebook has taken several steps to lessen the abundance of fake news on the network. Other moves include shutting down the bot networks used to defraud advertisers and suppressing links from websites with bad ad experiences.
Facebook has broken up its fight against fake news into three buckets: disrupting economic incentives, building new products, and helping people make informed decisions.
The most recent change falls into the first category. Still, Facebook remains steadfast against being an arbiter of truth. Pages can regain the ability to advertise and are not banned.
“It is possible that someone could inadvertently share something, so we want to make sure that it is a repeated behavior,” Leathern said. “We want there to be an incentive: good maintenance. If they no longer are sharing [fake] stories, they can regain the ability. A repeated pattern of this occurring has a consequence.”
Facebook declined to share an exact estimate of the financial impact. The company earned $9.32 billion in the second quarter of 2017, the majority of which comes from mobile advertising
“I think overall the order of magnitude of the size of this is relatively small,” Leathern said.