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Facebook says it will punish individual accounts caught spreading misinformation

Facebook will also block the spread of misinformation spread through pages by displaying a warning to new followers. 
Facebook will also block the spread of misinformation spread through pages by displaying a warning to new followers.  (Facebook)

The social networking giant is now extending the penalties for misinformation to individual accounts, something that was only applied to groups and pages in the past.

Facebook on Wednesday announced that it would begin targeting individual accounts that have been caught spreading fake news or misinformation on the platform. The company says it will “reduce distribution” of all posts from any user that regularly shares false information on the service.

Read more: How to spot misinformation online in 4 easy steps

The company explained in a blog post that it would notify users that were caught spreading misinformation, informing them that continuing to do so would result in their posts (including future ones) would be pushed down the News Feed, making them less likely to be spotted by more users. There is no clarity at this point as to how many infractions would cause an account to be penalised, or the process to appeal in case of an incorrect decision.

Here's what repeat offenders will see when they spread more misinformation on the platform. 
Here's what repeat offenders will see when they spread more misinformation on the platform.  (Facebook)

“Whether it’s false or misleading content about COVID-19 and vaccines, climate change, elections or other topics, we’re making sure fewer people see misinformation on our apps,” the company said on its blog. The methods employed by Facebook will also inform people in case they’re about to share information that has been debunked and offer them an option to delete the post, or eventually have their posts de-prioritised on the News Feed.

Also read: New EU guidelines target Facebook, Google over monetising fake news

The big change here is that Facebook is now extending the penalties for misinformation to individual accounts, something that was only applied to groups and pages in the past. While the company already slows down the spread of posts containing claims or facts that have been debunked by fact-checkers, this is the first time that it is also focusing on misinformation spread through individual accounts. “We already reduce a single post’s reach in News Feed if it has been debunked,” the company explains.

Facebook will also warn users about a page that has been caught spreading information on the platform.  
Facebook will also warn users about a page that has been caught spreading information on the platform.   (Facebook)

“Whether it’s false or misleading content about COVID-19 and vaccines, climate change, elections or other topics, we’re making sure fewer people see misinformation on our apps,” the company said on its blog. The methods employed by Facebook will also inform people in case they’re about to share information that has been debunked and offer them an option to delete the post, or eventually have their posts de-prioritised on the News Feed.

The big change here is that Facebook is now extending the penalties for misinformation to individual accounts, something that was only applied to groups and pages in the past. While the company already slows down the spread of posts containing claims or facts that have been debunked by fact-checkers, this is the first time that it is also focusing on misinformation spread through individual accounts. “We already reduce a single post’s reach in News Feed if it has been debunked,” the company explains.|#+|

Facebook says that it will also show a large warning that pops up when users try to like or follow a page that is known to spread misinformation, which will inform users that the page has “repeatedly spread false information” with smaller text underneath that says independent fact-checkers have said the information shared was false. Users can then choose from two options — “go back” or “follow page anyway” Facebook stated on its blog.

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