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Facebook to Tell You When You're About to Share an Outdated News Story

(Credit: Facebook)

To cut down on misinformation, Facebook will notify users when they’re about to share a news article that’s more than 90 days old. 

The notifications will appear when you click “share” under an article in your Facebook News Feed. The change is designed to nudge people away from circulating information that may no longer be accurate. “When we ask people what kind of news they want to see on Facebook, they continually tell us they want information that is timely and credible,” the social network wrote in a Thursday blog post

Facebook’s News Feed actually doesn’t show you when a news article was originally published. Instead, it only tells you the date and time a user shared the article on the social network—even if the news story itself was written months or years ago. As a result, people can end up sharing articles that go viral without realizing the information is outdated. 

“News publishers in particular have expressed concerns about older stories being shared on social media as current news, which can misconstrue the state of current events,” Facebook wrote in the blog post. “Some news publishers have already taken steps to address this on their own websites by prominently labeling older articles to prevent outdated news from being used in misleading ways.”   

The company’s own research also found that an article’s original publication date can help people decide whether to read, trust, and share the piece to their friends and family, prompting Facebook to roll out these notifications. However, people can choose to ignore the alert and share the article anyways. 

Facebook alert telling you an article is over 3 months old(Image: Facebook)

The new notifications will start rolling out globally today. Why Facebook settled on a 90-day threshold wasn’t explained. But the company is also considering applying the approach for other use cases, including the pandemic.

“For posts with links mentioning COVID-19, we are exploring using a similar notification screen that provides information about the source of the link and directs people to the COVID-19 Information Center for authoritative health information,” the company said.

In April, Facebook said it would show messages in the News Feed to people who like, react to, or comment on harmful misinformation about COVID-19 that Facebook has since removed.

Rival social media company Twitter is also trying to stop people from inadvertently sharing inaccurate news articles. Earlier this month, Twitter began testing a new alert that’ll ask users to first read a news story before re-tweeting it to followers.

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