The Washington Post revealed on Tuesday that Facebook has been assigning a secret “trustworthiness” rating system to users in an effort to combat fake news. The system predicts a users trustworthiness on a scale from zero to 1.
Facebook’s product manager, Tessa Lyons, says this newly developed system will help fight against people who continuously report truthful stories as fake simply to be malicious or because they disagree with them.
SAN FRANCISCO — Facebook has begun to assign its users a reputation score, predicting their trustworthiness on a scale from zero to 1.
The previously unreported ratings system, which Facebook has developed over the past year, shows that the fight against the gaming of tech systems has evolved to include measuring the credibility of users to help identify malicious actors.
Facebook developed its reputation assessments as part of its effort against fake news, Tessa Lyons, the product manager who is in charge of fighting misinformation, said in an interview. The company, like others in tech, has long relied on its users to report problematic content — but as Facebook has given people more options, some users began falsely reporting items as untrue, a new twist on information warfare for which it had to account.
It’s “not uncommon for people to tell us something is false simply because they disagree with the premise of a story or they’re intentionally trying to target a particular publisher,” Lyons said.
Lyons went on to say the zero to 1 ratings system is only one small part of how Facebook determines the credibility of users. What makes this more controversial is that Facebook won’t discuss what the other rating factors are for fear that it will make the system easier to game by people with bad intentions.
Facebook launched their content flagging system in 2015 to allow users to report content they believed to be false. However, there has been widespread abuse of the system by users with political agendas. This new secret trustworthiness rating will help to weed out those who “cry wolf” from those flagging legitimate fake news.
According to the Washington Post, Facebook cited the recent Alex Jones controversy as an example of people abusing the Facebook flagging system.
Liberal activists began calling on Big Tech to remove Jones’ content from Facebook and other platforms. This led to a massive collective effort to flag all of Jones’ content on Facebook, which left Facebook executives wondering how to deal with what could be considered tricking their reporting system to achieve a political aim.
Jones was eventually removed from every major social platform except for Twitter, where he received a one week suspension.