Information Button: Facebook Testing Wikipedia 'Context' Tool To Fight Fake News

Facebook is trying to curb the circulation of fake news stories by giving users more information about publishers through its new “i” button, the company announced Thursday.

The social media platform is testing the feature to give users “additional context” on the articles they see in their news feed. Tapping on the “i” button will pull up information about a publisher, including a Wikipedia snippet about the company.

“We’re making it easier to learn about an article right in your Facebook newsfeed,” said Facebook Product Manager Andrew Anker in a video.

When links for articles are shared on Facebook, users will see a button that provides additional information, like the publisher’s Wikipedia entry, an option to follow their page, trending or related articles about the topic, as well as information on where the article is being shared on Facebook. If there is no information provided, like if a publisher doesn’t have a Wikipedia page, Facebook will display that there is no additional data. The lack of information on a publisher could mean its a suspicious site.

“This new feature is designed to provide people some of the tools they need to make an informed decision about which stories to read, share, and trust,” Facebook said in a blog post. “Helping people access this important contextual information can help them evaluate if articles are from a publisher they trust, and if the story itself is credible.”

Facebook said the testing is at its first phase and will get feedback from users and publishers about the tool. The new feature will not change what a person sees in their news feed, Facebook said.

The tool comes as Facebook and other social media platforms battle fake news on their sites. The introduction of the feature comes as Facebook and Twitter prepare to appear in front of Congress and testify publicly on Russian interference during the 2016 presidential election. The hearing will take place before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Nov. 1.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced late last month the company will hand over to Congress 3,000 political ads that traced back to Russian accounts. In a briefing with Congress earlier last month, Facebook said it discovered $100,000 in ad spending from June 2015 to May 2017, which were linked to the ads. The propaganda was traced back to nearly 500 inauthentic accounts and pages. The ads focused on spurring divisive social and political views, from topics like LGBT, race, immigration and the Second Amendment.

The company had previously handed over the information it discovered to FBI Special Counsel Robert Mueller under a search warrant.

The social media company said it’s possible it could find more Russian ads from fake accounts and pages. The ads circulated by Russian accounts might have reached as many as 10 million Americans, according to reports. About half of the propaganda was seen before Election Day last year.