Facebook: a bug has been promoting fake news for 6 months

For more than 6 months, Facebook has been highlighting fake news as well as articles with dangerous content in its news tab. Indeed, a bug in the rating system, which allows the social network to validate all the news posted on its platform, has allowed these articles to obtain 30% more views. The problem, detected in October 2021, has since been fixed.

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“Massive failure of the rating system”. Here are the terms used by Facebook teams to describe the problem which, for 6 months, caused promotion of dangerous articles in the Facebook News tab. In France, the latter has been available since February 2022. But in the United States, it has been online for several years. To ensure quality information and avoid access to fake news, which the social network prides itself on combating ardently for a long time, the company has developed a rating system.

This system is based on an AI capable of scanning the articles posted on the platform and assigning it a rating. The higher the score, the more viable and interesting the article is considered. It happens that the AI ​​in question is accompanied by “fact-checkers” responsible for providing a double check to the rating. But, in October 2021, a report states that the process is plagued by a significant bug. Instead of deleting articles containing fake news, this bug put them forward in their giving a good mark.

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Facebook News promoted articles containing misinformation and nudity

In fact, these articles recorded a 30% increase in reading. In addition to fake news, the bug also led to the highlighting of articles incorporating violent content, nudity or Russian propaganda. The issue was categorized as “SEV Tier One,” a rank that was notably attributed to Russia’s blocking of Facebook. It was only on March 11 that the bug has been fixed.

The latter would not have had “no significant and long-term impact on [les] measures “ of the platform, according to the Facebook spokesperson. The rating system has long been controversial, particularly regarding its involvement in the removal of articles covering wars or political topics. Facebook has not yet released any data on its actual effect on posting news to users.

Source: The Verge

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