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It’s the company’s latest attempt at fighting the spread of fake news.
Are you a model digital citizen or a nightmarish fake news-sharing social media user? Facebook knows the answer. The social network has reportedly begun assigning users a “reputation score” in order to quantify their trustworthiness online.
In an interview with the Washington Post, Facebook product manager Tessa Lyons explained the new reputation score is meant to battle the spread of fake news on the site. Facebook’s been developing the system, which ranks users on a scale of 0 to 1, for the past year.
It’s unclear exactly how the score is formulated, whether all or just some users have a score, and exactly how this score is used on Facebook. However, its conceivable that a person with a low trustworthiness score may see their posts shared less broadly among their followers.
A user’s reputation score isn’t meant to be an “absolute indicator of a person’s credibility,” Lyons told the Post. It’s one of a number of different metrics Facebook is using to assess the “risk” of a particular user. The network is using thousands of different behavioral clues to classify users, including how often they flag content shared by others and what publishers are considered most trustworthy.
Facebook and other social media giants are in a difficult situation here. It’s important that the company be transparent about its efforts to fight spam, hateful content, and fake news. However, if Facebook revealed how the score works and is calculated, the metric would be rendered useless since people would learn how to trick and gamify it.
Since Facebook began tackling the problem in the months following the 2016 election, attempts to curb the pervasiveness of false or misleading information have had mixed results. In April, Facebook offered users a way to see if friends or followed pages are frequent sharers of fake news.
Rather than relying on users themselves to report fake news or untrustworthy links, this new method could give Facebook better insight and control over the issue—if the reputation score is indeed an accurate way to judge users.
H/T Washington Post
Christina Bonnington is a tech reporter who specializes in consumer gadgets, apps, and the trends shaping the technology industry. Her work has also appeared in Gizmodo, Wired, Refinery29, Slate, Bicycling, and Outside Magazine. She is based in the San Francisco Bay Area and has a background in electrical engineering.