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Facebook is asking users to judge the truthfulness of news headlines

Facebook is apparently asking users to rate the quality of news stories on its service, after facing criticism for allowing fake or misleading news. At least three people on Twitter have posted surveys that ask whether a headline “uses misleading language” or “withholds key details of the story.” The earliest one we’ve seen was posted on December 2nd, and asked about a story from UK comedy site Chortle. Two others reference stories by Rolling Stone and The Philadelphia Inquirer.

It’s not clear what Facebook plans to do with the survey results, and the company did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Facebook has recently gotten in trouble for failing to stop the spread of news that is either outright false or extremely misleading, especially that related to the recent election. The question about withholding details, however, seems to deal with more general concerns about low-quality “clickbait.”

Facebook has rolled out several algorithmic tweaks intended to reduce headlines that “intentionally leave out crucial information, or mislead people, forcing people to click to find out the answer.” But in its last update, Facebook described using an internal team — not public-facing surveys — to identify the linguistic tics of clickbait. If this is in fact a new strategy, Facebook seems to be turning to mass-crowdsourcing for more data.

We haven’t seen these surveys in our own feeds, and without more details, it’s hard to say how widespread they are. But for the record, the three headlines in question appear to be relevant and factually accurate. In other words, you probably will believe what happens next.


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